Tourism industry looking for authentic, unique SA tourism experiences | Fin24
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Tourism industry looking for authentic, unique SA tourism experiences

Nov 11 2018 18:30
Carin Smith

London – Veve Kondile, owner of the 4-star Edge Lodge in East London, says he became an entrepreneur in the hospitality industry “by default”.

“And now I have developed a passion for opportunities in South Africa’s tourism industry,” he told Fin24 on Tuesday at the World Travel Market (WTM) London.

Kondile is part of a group of small business owners hosted at WTM London by SA Tourism as part of its incubator programme.

“I am a village boy from the Transkei and when you grow up in the African cultural tradition you are taught to always take good care of guests and make them feel at home. So, it was natural for me when I became involved in the hospitality industry to want to give guests the experience they were looking for,” he explains.

His accommodation business started when he acquired a property in East London and ended up renting it out to people doing training.

“When people wanted to use my facility for training, they would always ask me if I did not know about accommodation. That gave me the idea to offer accommodation too,” tells Kondile.

Asked for his success recipe, he says he makes sure he complies with all the health and safety standards. Furthermore, he makes sure to know on an on-going basis what the market wants so that he can cater to the needs of his guests.

He finds that his guests do not want just a duplication of experiences they can have at “flashy hotels”. They want a unique and authentic Afrocentric experience.

“I am successful because I know I am not a hotel. I am a guest house. Most of my clientele know the luxuries of a hotel, but they want something more intimate. They want their private space. My style of operating is working for me. It is about personalisation. I don’t have too many rooms in one place,” explains Kondile.

“Because I have a smaller establishment I can adapt to guests’ individual needs.”

He found that at SA Tourism’s stand at WTM London international tour operators liked his small, organic approach.

“They told me they have now done the Kruger National Park and other traditional tourist spots in SA. Now they are looking for something different.

This trend has also been picked up by Thuli Galelekile and Keith Matthews of KwaZulu-Natal Tourism. They also had a spot at the SAT stand at WTM London.

“Tour operators coming to see us are looking for unique experiences. They want to know about areas and activities that are not yet well known rather than the obvious tourism itineraries. They want off the beaten track experiences,” explained Matthews.

Galelekile adds that the tour operators are also looking for cultural activities and diverse experiences.

Both Matthews and Galelekile are excited about the opportunities and interest that the new direct flight by British Airways between London and Durban are already bringing.

Lester Ntsabo, owner of Lengau Travel and Tours based in Sun City is another SME hosted at WTM London as part of SAT’s incubator programme.

He told Fin24 that tour operators are looking for package deals which include wild life and
cultural activities. They find SA of interest as a destination because of its cultural diversity.

* Fin24 was a guest of SA Tourism at WTM London.

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wtm london  |  travel and leisure  |  tourism


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