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Seda has proposed a collaborative framework to stimulate economic growth and development among SMMEs operating in the cultural tourism and creative industries. The framework was drafted at a consultative workshop on cultural tourism, hosted by Seda and its United Nations partners, UNESCO, UNIDO and ILO, in October 2009 at Maropeng - Cradle of Humankind.

The workshop was attended by high-level delegates from, amongst others, Proudly South Africa, National Heritage Council and the Peace Parks Foundation. The forum sought to develop a better understanding of the products and services available in these sectors, and identify bottlenecks within the value chains which were stunting the growth and sustainability of such enterprises.

Seda recognises that there are several challenges facing the growth of SMMEs in this sector as a result of overlapping tourism policy interventions, programmes and projects, particularly within the cultural tourism and creative industries sub sectors.

According to Charles Wyeth, Seda COO, the workshop assessed ways of streamlining the sector's offerings as well as developing partnerships and enhanced strategies for cooperative enterprises in cultural tourism.

"We brought together practitioners in community and cultural tourism to promote partnerships and dialogue, and develop a common understanding of issues in order to identify the challenges facing community-based enterprises. The workshop also profiled cultural tourism value chains and the application of UN-led international programmes," Wyeth said.

A key objective was assessing opportunities to create sustainable employment in the cultural tourism sector by integrating wildlife, conservation and heritage-related tourism products. "Such products anchor southern Africa's tourism industry and hold great potential for this sector. Our biggest challenge will be leveraging the highly developed tourism industry to create these opportunities," added Wyeth.

Several themes emerged in workshop, including the need for an integrated approach to policy/ programme formulation; further transformation in the tourism sector and cultural tourism sub-sector; the need for a competency framework for the sub-sector; and performance measurement.

These issues were debated and several possible interventions identified, including the establishment of a dedicated project to align all cultural tourism policies within government; SMME support interventions that effectively address sustainability and sub-sector role player engagement; a monitoring and evaluation framework; and an audit of the sub-sector.

It was against this backdrop that the framework was established, which suggests joint institutional oversight and accountability of SMME support at national level; commonly shared parameters defining the cultural tourism sub-sector; a monitoring and evaluation and audit framework (based on these parameters); national SMME support strategic objectives; and an implementation model.

As the interim secretariat, Seda will distribute the workshop document for comment, process feedback and convene a meeting with the oversight role players to generate a programme of action. Regular updates in this regard will be shared with readers as they become available.