The South African tourism industry is loaded with opportunities to uplift and empower small businesses, entrepreneurs and local communities. As a significant driver of economic growth, the development, sustainability and inclusivity of the sector needs to be a priority for all.
This is according to Premier Hotels & Resorts’ Group Sales and Marketing Manager, Grant Sandham, who notes that the recent Local Government Tourism Conference (LGTC) in Johannesburg (themed: Tourism planning is everybody’s business), played an important role in opening discussions relating to the state of the sector and how integrated planning can improve tourism delivery at local government level.
He says, “It is imperative that the collective efforts of the private sector are aligned with those of local and national government. The tourism industry contributes over R110 000 million to the South African Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is responsible for the creation of over 700 000 direct employment opportunities. While this is a noteworthy contribution, there are far more opportunities to be unlocked if the industry works together in growing and improving our offering.”
In addition to infrastructural planning, the conference examined transformation in tourism, revealing that the sector still lags behind when it comes to meeting transformation targets. Currently, less than 30% of South African Exempted Micro Enterprises, Qualifying Small Enterprises and Large Enterprises meet the targets set for ownership, management control, employment equity, preferential procurement, enterprise development and skills development.
Sandham references South African Minister of Tourism, Tokozile Xasa’s speech from the LGTC in which she said, “The transformation of our sector is imperative in promoting inclusivity.”
Sandham adds, “Our industry should be a reflection of the country and what it has to offer. With a focus on equality and diversity, it is essential for the tourism sector to showcase these values.”
“This is something we actively encourage and apply at Premier Hotels & Resorts. Currently, we have initiatives underway which are aimed at uplifting our previously disadvantaged staff and assisting them in furthering their careers. In fact, we will be awarding bursaries to selected staff next year.”
“Our properties also all have employment equity (EE) strategies in place, as well as black economic empowerment (BEE) compliance certifications, which are implemented and respected in line with our overall transformation targets. Such initiatives and policies are vital in order to initiate meaningful change and is the responsibility of every business to introduce and promote,” he explains.
With the Ekurhuleni Tourism Strategy approved in 2016, Sandham highlights that strides to improve our tourism industry are being made.
“Ultimately, our goal – as an industry – needs to be maintaining globally competitive standards, remaining a desirable destination for local and international travellers, and making the necessary changes in order to reflect the diversity of our nation. Tourism really is everybody’s business as it benefits us all in some way,” Sandham concludes.
For more information on Premier Hotels & Resorts, visit www.premierhotels.co.za.