Durban Green Corridor is a service point for young tourists looking for authentic, unique and exciting nature experiences within the city of Durban, South Africa. WYSE Travel Confederation spoke to Duncan Pritchard, Development Manager of Durban Green Corridor about how his company helps communities in rural areas around the city of Durban to build tourism capacity through youth development projects.
Durban Green Corridor started in 2010 with a vision of using the open spaces around the city of Durban in South Africa as a tool for economic development and conservation through ecotourism. Durban is a very popular coastal tourism destination in South Africa but few tourists’ ventures inland from the beaches to discover the rich culture and spectacular natural scenery just 20 minutes from the beach. This is something we wanted to change and expose tourists to an entirely different side of Durban, whilst at the same time working with youth to build tourism capacity amongst communities in these rural areas.
What are your unique selling points? What makes you different?
Firstly, Durban Green Corridors is a non-profit organization. So everything we do, every experience a tourist has, has a direct positive impact on some of our city’s poorest communities. Durban Green Corridors also offers tourists some of the most authentic cultural experiences in the country from homestays in rural Zulu villages to Rastafarian caves and some of the highest concentration of historical sites per square kilometre on our Woza eNanda Urban walks, it is a melting pot of interesting history and culture. Juxtaposed to this are the spectacular nature experiences that can be enjoyed alongside these cultural experiences, from canoeing in Mangroves to waterfalls and endless mountain bike trails. It really is a totally different side to exploring Durban, away from the typical beach holiday experiences.
The Durban Green Corridors is also rather unique in that we focus on young people, creating opportunities for youth in our communities to get involved in a range of youth development projects such as our bike programme and our volunteer programme which facilitates volunteer opportunities for young travellers to spend time working and experiencing life alongside youth involved in our various projects and programmes.
What are some of your success stories?
One of our major success stories has been the establishment of our Go!Durban Bike Programme, this is a roll out of an after-school youth programme (which volunteers can get involved in) that offers youth in rural areas a productive, safe and stimulating after-school programme.
Durban Green Corridors was also the 2015 winner of the Lilizela Imvelo Award, which recognized economic impact from responsible tourism. The award was the result of many years of training, support, marketing and mentorship of rural SMME’s and community guides.
What are your future plans?
Our current focus for the future is the development of a series of tourism routes through the beautiful valleys and river catchments around Durban, this includes a variety of options for backpackers and young travellers looking for something different, something totally unique and authentic. Linked to this is also the growth of our volunteer programme which will allow for cultural exchange between local youth and visiting backpackers, offering short to medium-term work experience and a chance to get directly involved in our projects, from environmental work to teaching, to sports coaching, to business support for emerging rural entrepreneurs.
We are certainly seeing a growth in the youth market in South Africa and especially youth who want “out of the ordinary” experiences and the challenge for us being, “how do we make these experiences easy and accessible” for a market that typically doesn’t hire cars or purchase high end “tour packages” – making this affordable and accessible is a challenge we see as important to address.
We had had many positive reviews and recommendations from the industry to get involved and grow our network internationally. For us it’s a valuable opportunity to network, learn more about the industry and connect.
Any top tips for people starting in the youth travel sector?
We have learned that traditional marketing approaches don’t really work and the youth travel market is surprisingly well networked. Offering great experiences to generate great word of mouth referrals has been invaluable to us.