Free Robben Island experience on Heritage Day

Friday, September 16, 2016

Cape Town – Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom has told Robben Island Museum staffers that they should strive to give every visitor a memorable experience in order to attract more tourists to visit the iconic site.

The Minister also commended the museum for opening its doors for a free Robben Island experience on Heritage Day.

The Minister launched museum’s Service Excellence Legacy Committee on Friday.

He told the Service Excellence programme’s ambassadors that the quality of their service is an important marketing tool for the island, which is famous for being the prison that detained political prisoners during the struggle, including former President Nelson Mandela.

“…360 000 people visited Robben Island last year. Imagine if each one of those 360 000 people had such a profound experience on Robben Island that they persuade 10 other people, then you will get 3.6 million people who want to come to Robben Island,” Minister Hanekom said.

The Service Excellence Legacy initiative aims to assist tourism products to develop a service excellence culture in terms of its operations and processes, through the application of the Service Excellence Strategy and Standards.

While the Minister launched this leg of the programme at the museum, it is one of four identified tourism products that are participating in the department’s Service Excellence Integrated Product Support initiative, the Minister said.

Minister Hanekom said it was important that the programme is launched during Heritage Month and encouraged South Africans and tourists from abroad to visit the island, which is one of the eight World Heritage Sites.

He said the tourist experience at the island is not just about the tour guides. He said it was about all the employees of the museum – from cleaners to security personnel.

“I cannot stress enough that it is [because of] every one of you that we all enjoy the visitor experience… Those 360 000 that visited the island will only tell others what a special experience it was if we make it a special experience... You can make it happen.

“You know, you can have a good guide and when you get to Robben Island, and there is litter there, it destroys the experience so that is why I say the cleaners are very important, the security is very important, the people who serve the food are very important, every one of you makes up that experience,” he said. 

Heritage Day is open day for Robben Island

Minister Hanekom said, meanwhile, that the increasing accessibility of the island to all South Africans, especially those with special needs, should be the museum’s top priority.

He said the theme for this year is ‘Tourism for all: promoting universal accessibility’.

“Universal accessibility is also about people with special needs. We want the whole country to be sensitive towards people that cannot hear, cannot see, who are on wheelchairs, because that is the way we want to promote ourselves – as a caring country, as a country that cares about people.”

Minister Hanekom said while the island should aim to attract 300 million people from all over the world, it is not just about foreign tourists.

“We would like every South African to be afforded an opportunity once in their life to go to Robben Island.

“I am really pleased CEO [Mava Dada], I am impressed that you have a free day on the 24th of September.” – SAnews.gov.za

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