Project Description

WOWZULU – Creating a sustainable community-based tourism model for South Africa

Better Tourism Africa has partnered with KwaZulu-Natal-based rural development agency, Africa!Ignite, on a project focusing on their work in developing community-based tourism.

“Creating a sustainable community-based tourism model for South Africa”, a project executed by Africa!Ignite, has been selected for funding through the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP) Trust Fund’s open call for proposals for its Sustainable Tourism Programme. The Trust Fund is administered by the 10YFP Secretariat, based in UNEP.

Africa Ignite’s 10YFP STP project aims to bring together key tourism stakeholders to research, strengthen and document its WOWZULU community tourism initiative as a replicable, best-practice sustainable tourism model that delivers community benefits and accelerates the shift towards sustainable consumption and production (SCP).

The 10YFP Sustainable Tourism Programme


The 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP) aims to generate collective impact through multi-stakeholder programmes and partnerships, which develop, replicate and scale up Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) policies and initiatives at all levels.

Find out more about 10YFP here.

Sustainable Consumption and Production

Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) is at the core of 10YFP. Simply put, SCP is about meeting people’s basic needs and bringing a better quality of life, while minimising the cost to the environment. SCP is also a Sustainable Development Goal, SDG12.

Find out more about SCP here.

10YFP Sustainable Tourism Programme

The 10YFP Sustainable Tourism Programme (10YFP STP) supports cooperation between stakeholders for the development and implementation of good practices in resource efficient and low-carbon tourism, reducing biodiversity loss, conserving ecosystems, preserving cultural heritage, alleviating poverty and improving sustainable livelihoods.

Find out more about 10YFP STP here.

The WOWZULU community tourism model

The WOWZULU Model has been developed over the past four years. It creates inclusive destinations that integrate sustainable community-owned tourism experiences into an established commercial tourism sector which has long benefited from the flow of tourists into rural KwaZulu-Natal with its scenic beauty and ‘big-five’ wilderness areas. This inclusion contributes to the transformation of the tourism sector in KwaZulu-Natal.

In its simplest form a WOWZULU destination is created through the following steps:

  1. Africa!Ignite is invited to assess the tourism potential of an area by local stakeholders
  2. A situational analysis identifies potential products and local partners, packages routes and experiences and identifies commercial partners in the hotel and tour operator industry.
  3. A representative destination Steering Committee is formed to guide project development.
  4. Emerging community tourism and craft entrepreneurs are identified.
  5. A physical marketplace is established as a welcome area/gateway into the community. The Marketplace sells handmade craft products, offers storytelling performances, serves coffee, offers a taste of local cuisine and introduces tourism activities. From here, local tourist guides take tourists into the community to enjoy a range of tourism experiences. Marketplaces function as social franchises and are owned and managed by a community member.
  6. Throughout the establishment phase, entrepreneurs are mentored and trained in the basics of tourism service provision. Furthermore the team running the WOWZULU Marketplace receives business development mentoring and support with the objective to hand over ownership of the WOWZULU franchise to this team of entrepreneurs over the course of 3 years.
  7. The route, products and experiences are marketed through the WOWZULU franchise in 4 ways:
    1. The establishment of an online booking portal and tourism booking office at Africa!Ignite
    2. Direct marketing to inbound tour operators specializing in responsible tourism experiences
    3. Direct marketing (and reciprocal marketing) to and of hotels and lodges in the inclusive destinations of which the Marketplaces and community-owned experiences are part.
    4. The establishment of a social media presence, media engagement and interactive online community.

The diagram below depicts the model components, particularly illustrating how the Marketplace is the central hub in the tourism destination through which commercial and community owned products can build relationships, test innovations and trade.

wowzulu community based tourism

Africa!Ignite’s 10YFP STP project

Africa!Ignite’s 10YFP STP project aims to bring together key tourism stakeholders to research, strengthen and document its WOWZULU community tourism initiative as a replicable, best-practice sustainable tourism model that delivers community benefits and accelerates the shift towards sustainable consumption and production (SCP).

The findings of the action-research will be documented, and the ultimate outcome will be a tested and refined model for sustainable community-based tourism. The findings will be published and presented on multiple tourism platforms.

10YFP STP aims to leverage collaborations and partnerships to achieve its goals. To this end, a multi-stakeholder forum comprising of municipal and provincial tourism officers was formed, and is being chaired by the Department of Tourism. Tourism trade organisations and other tourism stakeholders like Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife were also invited to join. The purpose of the forum is one of a steering committee – to give the project direction and provide input and influence that will promote the success of the project.

WOWZULU currently operates in seven KwaZulu-Natal destinations, and six of these fall within the scope of the project. They are:

  1. Emazazini, Northern Drakensberg
  2. Khula Village, St. Lucia Wetlands Park
  3. Ohlange, Inanda Valley
  4. Ballito, North Coast
  5. Tembe, Far North
  6. KwaNzimakwe, South Coast

Project activities

Testing WOWZULU as a model for sustainable tourism requires that the Marketplaces, the emerging community-owned tourism enterprises, the established tourism enterprises and the destination in which they operate are all assessed against global or national standards for sustainability, the purpose of which is to improve, mitigate and prevent tourism impacts and mainstream SCP patterns.

WOWZULU Marketplaces

Marketplaces will be assessed against criteria for SCP, after which a plan for improvement will be developed, upgrades made to the Marketplaces as required and work done with Marketplace owners to help them to become champions of SCP and showcase the business case for sustainable practices.

Tourism enterprises

Promoting sustainable tourism to tourism enterprises will be done in two ways – firstly, the project will facilitate an evaluation of 24 enterprises against the National Standard for Responsible Tourism which will help enterprises understand their sustainability performance and also increase their awareness about responsible tourism.

In addition to this, eight enterprises will be mentored to help them address the gaps in their sustainability practices with the view to prepare them for responsible tourism certification.


The destination is represented by the jurisdiction that has responsibility for the tourism function in the area in which WOWZULU Marketplaces are located, and this is either the local municipality of the district municipality.

As part of the project, an evaluation of each destination against global criteria for sustainable destinations will be conducted, after which each destination will be supported to develop an action plan for developing sustainable tourism. The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Destination Criteria that will be used has been endorsed by the UNWTO, and is recognised as the official global standard for sustainable tourism destinations.

The GSTC Criteria are the minimum undertakings that any tourism management organisation should aspire to when considering sustainability in their practices. To satisfy the definition of sustainable tourism, destinations must take an interdisciplinary, holistic and integrative approach which includes four main objectives:

  1. demonstrate sustainable destination management
  2. maximize social and economic benefits for the host community and minimize negative impacts
  3. maximize benefits to communities, visitors and cultural heritage and minimize impacts, and
  4. maximize benefits to the environment and minimize negative impacts.

They have been designed to be used by all types and scales of destinations.

Furthermore, one destination will be selected for further support to close the gaps where it falls short of globally accepted standards and to reach a level where it is able to apply for sustainability certification.

Find out more

To find out more about 10YFP STP please visit:

To find out more about Africa Ignite, WOWZULU and their 10YFP STP project, please visit or contact Bongiwe Mlangeni at +27 31 303 5482  or

Project Details


Started January 2017, ends September 2018


Africa! Ignite


10YFP Trust Fund Project