EcoTraining and Tourvest have signed a three-year deal to launch its first-ever Field Guide Training Academy. The initiative identifies local candidates to study and qualify as field guides and provide them with employment opportunities and empowerment within the industry.

Tourvest is a leading Southern Africa integrated tourism group, operating businesses which range from travel management companies, hotels, lodges and restaurants to craft, curio and jewelry shops and foreign exchange bureau under some 60 brands, employing more than 5 000 people.

EcoTraining brings 26 years of training experience to the project and includes CATHSSETA accreditation and FGASA endorsements.

“The program has been specifically designed for members of communities that live in the areas surrounding our various lodges throughout South Africa,” says Tourvest CEO Gary Elmes.

“This exciting program aims to improve community’s employment prospects and allow Tourvest to empower local talent at their various lodges. Communities and Tourvest will be enriched in the long-term, as this program will be repeated for many groups for years to come.”

After successful completion of the training, the guides will be placed at one of the Tourvest lodges.

Program candidates were judged on their passion for people and the environment and will receive both theoretical and practical lessons at Makalali Private Game Reserve, which provides exposure to a five-star hospitality environment as well as a vast ecosystem with a wide variety of animals, including the Big Five. They will also be given basic German language tuition to ease the shortage of foreign language guides.

EcoTraining is the pioneer and leader in safari guide and wildlife training in Africa and is widely recognized for its credibility and standard of excellence in nature-guide training. It offers accredited career courses, gap-year and sabbatical programs, nature programs, high school and university study abroad programs, custom courses and on-site professional guide training at safari lodges.

All courses are run directly from EcoTraining’s unfenced bush camps in prime wilderness areas across South Africa, Botswana, Kenya and Zimbabwe. To-date, EcoTraining has trained over 12 000 people from 33 different countries around the world.