Mthatha lodge among SA’s best

POPULAR Mthatha business, Dan’s Country Lodge and Events Centre, was named as the Eastern Cape finalist at this year’s Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Awards (Eteya) in Durban at the Tourism Indaba travel show.

Eteya is a nationwide tourism competition which recognises and honours South Africa’s best, most promising and innovative emerging tourism business owners.

Dan’s Lodge was among the 27 finalists, three from each province. The other Eastern Cape finalists were Virginia Townhouse, also in Mthatha, and Back-to-Eden Natural Health Therapy in East London.

Dan’s was then chosen as the regional finalist.

The nine finalists each received a R10000 grant towards the development of the business plan they worked on earlier in the competition. The nine finalists will each be assigned a mentor to work with them to implement the business plans.

Dan’s Lodge director Buyiswa Pasiya said the award had encouraged them to strive for greater heights.

“We are excited and grateful for this award because the award is judged by a panel that consists of a venture capitalist, bank business development manager, experienced tourism business players and Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa. We have been selected based on hard business rules,” Pasiya said.

Situated 22km outside of Mthatha, Dan’s is a four-star lodge that offers accommodation and have a conference centre that can hold up to 1000 people .

Pasiya said they also had a shuttle service that offered a ride through the villages Nelson Mandela is linked with.

Chief executive of South African Tourism Thulani Nzima said Eteya was not just another competition but was a programme and platform meant to unearth and showcase the products and services available.

She said it also showcased emerging tourism entrepreneurs who worked tirelessly to deliver excellence, authenticity and diversity to visitors. “We are impressed by the quality of this year’s applications and would like to congratulate the nine regional finalists,” said Nzima.

The overall winner between the nine regional finalists will be announced in September at a national tourism event. —

Tourism to throw net across Africa

By POLISWA PLAATJIE

THE Department of Tourism has announced plans to modernise the annual Indaba show in Durban and expand it to attract exhibitors from all over Africa.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Indaba 2013 on Saturday, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said their vision was to make the event a platform for exhibitors and buyers, not only in and from South Africa, but for the whole of the African continent.

They w ere willing to invest even more to see this happen. “As part of our growth and expansion plans, we will be gradually increasing African participation in the Indaba in 2014 and beyond,” he said. “That will ensure more exhibitors and more buyers ... good both for South Africa and the African continent.”

Van Schalkwyk said the latest international arrival statistics showed more people were coming into the country and spending more. Tourist growth rate in 2012 was more than double the average global rate of about 4% estimated by the UN World Tourism Organisation.

The United Kingdom continues to be SA’s biggest overseas tourism market followed by the United States, then Germany, with China moving into fourth.

This year the Indaba continued on the “Shaping our Future Together” theme which was underpinned with a strong heritage and culture message.

Earlier, Van Schalkwyk told the media tourists wanted to experience the authenticity of their destination. “Culture and heritage is a very important selling point of what we have to offer. We have eight heritage sites in South Africa and many people travel from the corners of the world to see them.”

Van Schalkwyk stressed the importance of d omestic tourism. Three-quarters of all tourists in SA were South Africans, “with domestic tourists having contributed R101-billion to our economy in 2011”.

The minister also announced the department would have a new award system called The Lilizela Tourism Awards. “Initially, we will start with five categories from service excellence, responsible sustainable tourism, to a special ministerial award that will recognise individual of companies that play a decisive role both in South Africa and internationally,” he said.

The first Lilizela Tourism Awards presentation will be held in September this year. —

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