We are delighted to welcome former anti-apartheid activist, curator and writer Calvyn Gilfellan to the 2018 Fairway Galle Literary Festival.

(Calvyn Gilfellan’s travel to the Festival is courtesy of the South African High Commission in Sri Lanka.)

FGLF2018 Participant - Calvyn Gilfellan

Calvyn Gilfellan is the current CEO of The Castle Control Board, a Schedule 3A Public Entity of the Department of Defense and Military Veterans, responsible for the preservation and promotion of the Castle of Good Hope‘s military and cultural heritage, marketing of the Castle as a tourist attraction and enhancing public access to the site.

The objective, since Calvyn took over in 2013, is to transform the Castle of Good Hope into a living heritage and position it as a place of education, healing, reconciliation and understanding with the ambition of establishing south Africa’s next UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Dutch East India Company built the Castle of Good Hope in the 17th century. It’s South Africa’s oldest building.

FGLF 2018 Topic of Discussion - Calvyn Gilfellan on The Castle of Good Hope

Calvyn Gilfellan, has over 30 years of experience in tourism, training, academic research, marketing, consulting, public administration, strategic planning and governance. After completion of his BA Honours degree in Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of the Western Cape in 1984, he joined UWC as a junior lecturer / researcher in February 1985. Whilst lecturing, Calvyn completed his Master’s Degree in Geography and Environmental Studies at UWC in 1991. His full-research thesis is titled “The Socioeconomic, Cultural and Morphological Impact of Tourism on Historic Mission Stations in the Western Cape: Genadendal, Elim Wupperthal.”

In 1997, he won the prestigious Ernest Oppenheimer Fellowship to do post-graduate research at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. He returned to spearhead the development of UWC’s first full degree course in Tourism in 1999.

He is reading towards the completion of a PHD in Community based Cultural Tourism and has completed modules in Qualitative Research, Quantitative Research, Action Research and the Politics &Ethics of Research through the South African Netherlands Research program on Alternatives Development in 2000.

In 2000, after more than 14 years in academia, he took up the challenging position of Director: Tourism Development in the Provincial Government of Mpumalanga, where he significantly contributed towards the development and transformation of the provincial tourism industry.

After his stint in government, he spent the next 8 years of his professional career in tourism marketing when he joined the Western Cape Province’s Tourism Marketing Authority as Executive Manager in September 2004. In March 2007, he took over as Chief Executive Officer, a position he held for the following five years.

Some of his many achievements whilst in this position were the spearheading of a highly successful 2010 Soccer World Cup marketing campaign as well as five consecutive clean and unqualified audit opinions from the Auditor General of South Africa.

Before joining the Castle of Good Hope Control Board in April 2013, he completed three government sponsored research projects namely: “Youth Development In The Northern Cape: A Ten Year Review”(with Anix Consulting-Northern Cape Department of Social Development, 2012), “An Integrated Tourism Development and Marketing Strategy for the Cederberg” (with Chervent Consulting – Cederberg Municipality, 2013) and “A Review of Drakenstein’s Tourism Strategy” (with Chervent Consulting – Drakenstein Municipality, 2013).

Gilfellan is very active in critical heritage studies and research. Besides his many public opinion pieces on contemporary heritage debates, he has published the following papers:

“The Castle of Good Hope: Re-imaging a relic from our haunted past” (Ubuntu, Issue 5, 2013); “The Commercialization of Heritage: Key Insights from South Africa’s Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town, South Africa” (InterpNews, Vol.5, No. 3, May/June 2016) and “History of the Department of Geography, Environmental Studies and Tourism at University of the Western Cape” (In: Gustav Visser, Ronnie Donaldson, Cecil Seethal, 2016: The Origin and Growth of Geography as a discipline at South Africa Universities).

Gilfellan served as external moderator for senior degree tourism students at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and the University of the Western Cape. This former anti-apartheid activist has held various leadership positions in community and professional organizations inter alia Councillor on the Paarl and Cape Winelands Municipal Councils (1995-1996), the National Education Crisis Committee (1985 – 1987), Paarl Students Association (1985 – 1990), Paarl Teachers Union (1987 – 1993), South African Democratic Teachers Union (1994 -1997), Paarl Museum (1997 – 1999), National Tourism Standards Generating Body (1999 – 2001), Paarl Rugby Union (1987 – 1990), Mpumalanga Tourism Board (2000 – 2004) and South East Africa Tourism Committee (2000 – 2004), the Castle Control Board (since 2013) and the School Governing Body of New Orleans Senior Secondary School, Paarl (since 2015).

Calvyn Gilfellan is resident in Paarl and is married to Rochelle. The couple has three children namely Travers (21), Nicole (18) and Lenice (13).


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