The announcement by President Ramaphosa to move to Alert Level 2 of the COVID-19 risk adjusted strategy as from Tuesday, 18 August 2020 marked a significant leap and milestone for the tourism sector. Whether you’re seeking adventure, romance, luxury or safari, KZN is ready for you.
In celebration of Women’s Month, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal presents some of the leading women in the province’s hospitality, travel and tourism industry.
A POSITIVE OUTLOOK
Despite challenges she faces as a small travel services and tour operator, Durban-based Mbali Msomi who owns and manages Leisure Holidays will not give up.
She said she faced opposition from companies and organisations who are not willing to use her company as a supplier because she is still small - she has only one employee - and has not been in existence for a long time.
“Accreditation and becoming a member of various industry bodies becomes difficult where there is a minimum turnover requirement. I am still struggling to overcome procurement hurdles.
“However, I am not ready to throw in the towel. Being a wanderlust myself, I feel the need to help and assist other travellers in finding their dream holidays.
“Leisure Holidays is all about inspiring individuals to leave their comfort zone and explore new places and new cultures whilst having lots of fun and adventures,” said Msomi, a mother of four.
She is full of praise for Tourism KwaZulu-Natal for the opportunities provided for SMMEs such as Leisure Holidays to exhibit their services at trade shows such as Africa’s Travel Indaba and the East Coast Travel & Adventure Show.
Msomi said she loved travelling and exploring new places and this is what inspired her to open her own travel agency.
“The idea is to encourage South Africans to explore amazing South Africa and enjoy the scenery in their own back yard.
“Our services to locals include girls’ weekend away, boys’ sports weekend, family bonding holidays and couples’ retreats.
“It is about appreciating the relationships with one another and enjoying the scenery with family and friends.”
She hopes to grow her business into a fully-fledged destination management company.
Meanwhile she has urged developing SMMEs in the tourism industry to be patient and realise that it takes time to develop a brand and a business that is recognisable.
FOLLOWING HER DREAMS
Nokuthula Hazel Bond, the owner of Liapolis Accommodation & Leisure, is thankful to Tourism KZN for the opportunities she has had to participate in the Tourism Indaba for three consecutive years.
This exhibition allowed her to expand her tourism industry networks and marketing opportunities.
Bond who was born and raised in KwaMashu township, north of Durban, qualified with a Bachelor of Social Science degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
She explored many avenues and realised she wanted financial freedom and to leave a legacy for her three children to inherit. Liapolis Accommodation & Leisure was then established, a three-star graded establishment providing accommodation, meals, shuttle service and a venue for small private functions. She manages six employees.
“Having funds readily available, access to markets and now the Covid-19 pandemic have been challenges in my business. However, it was all made possible with exploring and learning new trends in the tourism market, educating myself about improving customer experience and new staff development and training sessions,” said Bond.
She said women are often portrayed as inferior and incapable, especially when it comes to business. She believes in continuing to only focus on giving of her best daily to build a successful business.
“I advise women to have a good solid support structure, to understand what motivates you at work and to have a passion for the work you do.
“You must identify your target market and focus on your needs and expectations. Join industry organisations such as the National Accommodation Association of South Africa (NAA) and your local Community Tourism Organisation (CTO) as they will keep you updated on legislative changes and on other important information.”
The married mother enjoys her time hiking, taking long walks, reading and is passionate about training and developing people.
Bond plans to handover the management responsibility to one of her staff members while she focuses on establishing a training academy in the near future.
UNIQUE RURAL-TOWNSHIP TOURISM EXPERIENCES
Bitten by the travel bug since childhood, Nomcebo Langa had the rare privilege of experiencing a variety of cultures locally and at tourist attractions around the world.
Born and raised in a family-oriented home in Hammarsdale, she was taught to have respectable norms and values which kept her focused to pursue having her own business in the future.
While burning the midnight oil and raising her only daughter as a single parent, Langa qualified with a Masters’ degree in Taxation from the North West University.
Langa said: “I later exposed myself to business models and customer behaviour for six years at Ernst and Young, one of the largest professional services networks in the world and thereafter during 18 months with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Johannesburg.”
Her numerous visits to international destinations convinced her that she must get involved in the tourism industry. Thus, she opened her own tourism business called 1000 Thrills in Hillcrest, which develops and packages unique rural-townshiptourism experiences.
She said the lack of transformation in tourism in South Africa allowed her business to showcase authentic tourism and township experiences and offer a unique lifestyle to domestic and international tourists.
She said the nature of tourism business was previously a male-dominated business. “I had to put on my big girl pants and work extremely hard to be the brand ambassador of my own company.”
Developing a new business has been a challenge for Langa but through consultation with other successful tourism entrepreneurs, strong business ethics and sound business policies, she has managed to keep her business active even on quiet days.
“New strategic business models aligned with new market segmentations and new ways of doing business had to be implemented during the lockdown.
“SMMEs are advised to measure customer services and success of their business through customer retention and loyalty, customer satisfaction improvement and brand awareness,” she said.
She praises Tourism KZN for showcasing her company’s products and services at Tourism Indaba, World Travel Market Africa and tourism expos in the Netherlands, Russia, China, United Kingdom and Kenya.
The significant 76 percent of 1000 Thrills employees are women.
She advises women that research and education is the key elements in striving to have your own business. Attending business tourism seminars and conferences expands your knowledge in order to build your business. Develop smart ways to involve customers through professional tourism packages and new ideas.
Langa’s continuous determination and strong ethical business skills pushed 1000 Thrills to succeed especially after the announcement of level 2 lockdown which saw an influx and demand from tourists’ bookings for the next several weeks to come.