The owners of small tourism enterprises have been beaming from ear to ear with the responses their businesses have been receiving at the recent Africa’s Travel Indaba at the Durban ICC.

They were particularly full of praise for the guidance and mentorship offered by Tourism KwaZulu-Natal which has prioritised transformation in the province’s tourism sector.

The Tourism Development Department at Tourism KZN launched a series of online workshops to help small tourism enterprises navigate the unfamiliar environment and equip them with information, knowledge and tools necessary to function amidst and after the pandemic.

Several emerging black-owned tourism enterprises said they had greatly benefitted from the Tourism KZN Enterprise Development Support programme, placing them in a sound position to bounce back with vigour when tourism fully resumed in the province.

Tourism KZN is aware that many small tourism business operators have been left financially and emotionally drained by the impact of the pandemic and the organisation will continue to seek ways to support those in distress.

Prince Tembe, owner of Royal Thonga Safari Lodge in Manguzi said he received great feedback from meeting different stakeholders and tourism business owners at the Indaba.

“I managed to secure valuable business from tour operators and some Government organisations.

“The Lodge has adopted a turnaround strategy with some restructuring, including a boat cruise experience, night braais, sleepovers in the reserve and night walking trails and picnics,” he said.

Nkosikhona Ndlovu, owner of Amangonyama Tours who has been operating since 2016 said he is ecstatic as he secured African and international buyers from Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Zambia.

“The pandemic gave me enough time to restructure my business and think outside the box. The most popular tour is the traditional Zulu homestead tours and township cultural activities that tourists enjoy,” he said.

Ndlovu said he is looking forward to building his network and securing more business after the Indaba.

Smangele Memela, owner of Kwambali Tours who has been recognised for three years said she managed to secure three buyers yesterday, a few more today and looks forward to securing between 20 to 25 buyers before the end of Indaba.

“It is the first time that I am showcasing Kwambali Tours at the Indaba and it has been an incredible experience thus far,” she said.

Philisiwe Gumede, owner of Cynthia Hive Estate said she was having an amazing time at the Indaba and had met influential people who have given her valuable information on business. This has empowered her on how to do business in an effective way.

“I thank Tourism KZN for giving me this opportunity as this platform connects me to the right people in the tourism industry.

“I met with a KZN-based events company that is keen to book the venue at Cynthia Hive Estate,” she said.

Gumede added that she was currently in the process of building accommodation which will be ready by the end of the year. There is a restaurant on site, and she hosts a farmer’s market at the end of every month to attract more people to the estate.