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Deputy Minister of Tourism Mr. Fish Mahlalela presided over the closing ceremony of the Mandarin language training for 34 tour guides as they received their certification to attend the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) 2 course. closing took place on Friday August 19, 2022 in Gauteng, Benoni.

Deputy Minister Mahlalela said the Chinese tourism market presents a huge opportunity for South Africa. “According to the October 2018 UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, China was the top outbound market in terms of tourism spending, followed by the United States of America and Germany,” said the Deputy Minister.

This was confirmed by a needs analysis conducted during the 2018/19 financial year to determine if there was a need for training guides in the various foreign languages. Based on the responses, foreign language training, with particular emphasis on the emerging Chinese market, was highlighted as a critical area for skill development in tour guiding.

A concept document for the implementation of the Mandarin language program for tour guides was developed after consultations with various key stakeholders such as the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China as well as National and Provincial Registrars of Tourism Guides.

Implementing the training program in a phased approach, prioritizing three provinces at a time, was recognized as the best and most effective approach.

The HSK is an international standardized test of language proficiency (writing, reading and listening) which has six levels. Phase I of the Mandarin training program that the Ministry implemented saw the training of 55 tour guides in the nine provinces.

Of the 55 guides who were trained, a total of 45 passed the formal HSK1 exam and were considered eligible to participate in the second phase of the training program. A total of 34 tour guides have confirmed their availability to participate in Phase II.

Due to employment opportunities and other commitments, the remaining tour guides were unable to participate in the second phase.

The Center for Chinese Culture and International Exchange has been appointed as the training provider to implement Phase II of the training from July 11 to August 22, 2022 at the Kopanong Hotel and Conference Center in Gauteng. The second phase of the training program involved achieving the next level of Mandarin language proficiency which will include the HSK2 exam on Sunday, August 21, 2022.

“While phase three has yet to be planned, it will focus on exposure to platforms where guides can have the opportunity to practice their Mandarin skills and in the process gain more confidence and “Only those who have passed HSK 1 and 2 will be eligible to be considered for this phase. It is envisaged that the immersion phase of the program will take place in China,” Deputy Minister Mahlalela concluded.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the Department of Tourism, Republic of South Africa.

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