The Centre for Communication, Media and Society
School of Applied Human Sciences
Faculty of Humanities
Howard College Camus,
Durban, 4041, South Africa



4 August 2017

African Responsible Tourism Awards: Best in Poverty Alleviation

The Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS), of which  I was previously l director,  has worked with TFPD for 11 continuous years on three of its tourism development projects.  The structured relationship took the form of CCMS doing research on aspects of TFPD’s work across the country via a strategic research partnership in which students and academic staff addressed particular research questions relating to lodge-community partnerships,  marketing and representation, history and cultural tourism.

The initial objective was to develop an action research approach whereby our work shaped TFPD’s planning, business, and implementation decisions in the continuous development of its lodges, sites and routes. Our action research work is probably unique in this regard as TFPD actively responds to the research as and when it is carried out, always in close consultation with community stakeholders.  One PhD, three MAs and book were the result, and a new PhD is now in progress under my co-supervision at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). This work has attracted international academic attention.

Basically, what TFPD has achieved is remarkable.  In many cases, it took on management contracts shunned by every other tourism operator. TFPD has made unviable projects viable, refurbished physically degraded lodges and camps that span huge distances, re-motivated local, tribal, provincial and community stakeholders and staff and did so with a view to developing local nodes of tourism activity. It has documented the returns to the surrounding communities and developed a business model that has a social conscience. TFPD is not engaged just in corporate social investment (CSI) as a separate stream, but applies CSI as an integral component of its project.  By the same token it has developed strategic partnerships with various arms of the state, NGOs and various academics, in building both vertical and horizontally integrated development capacity. With regard to !Xaus the financials were made available to my research team and what is clear from the longitudinal research that we have done is that TFPD is able to operate under conditions that would be anathema to conventional business models.

In the process TFPD empowers local partner communities and local service providers.  Many of these state-funded ventures had transgressed every development principle in the book, yet the relentless vision and mission pursued by TFPD restored local confidence in these projects, employed locals and these routes and sites are now returning considerable sums to the  community stakeholders concerned.

The early story of various TFPD interventions is analysed in the PhD thesis, the three MA theses and in a book that draws on some of these outputs:  Tomaselli, K.G. (ed.) 2011. Cultural Tourism: Rethinking Indigeneity (Amsterdam Brill). Cultural Tourism provides an original model for development in public-private partnerships of specific relevance to South Africa.  These studies recovered local histories, mapped and proposed models for TFPD  relationships with local community stakeholders and worked with TFPDs site staff in developing marketing campaigns, recovering histories and enabling dignified forms of cultural tourism designed by the community stakeholders themselves.  The book has attracted international attention and I and its chapter authors have published widely in other forums on the topic, and we’ve been invited to many international venues to present our work.  A second recently registered PhD at UJ is now examining the project as a whole in terms of  how indigenising theory, methodologies and business models are able to directly address the state’s policy that is proposed by the idea of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS), a development policy that managed from the Department of Arts and Culture.

I fully support TFPD for the award.


Keyan G Tomaselli

Professor Emeritus and Fellow, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Distinguished Professor, University of Johannesburg
Member: Academy of Science for South Africa.