Northern Cape Scoops Up Considerable Tourism Awards at Indaba 2008
12 June 2008
We’ve done it again – only better than ever before!
We in the Northern Cape province can give ourselves a pat on the back for our Indaba 2008 achievements. Indaba took place 10-13 May at Durban’s International Convention Centre.
• Northern Cape scooped it up at the 3rd Annual Welcome Awards (a South African Tourism initiative), beating considerable competition country-wide! The Awards recognise and honour service excellence in the tourism and hospitality industry and have become catalysts for promoting service excellence and product innovation, according to South African Tourism CEO Moeketsi Mosola. Says Mosola: “The various category winners represent the cream of what our destination offers visitors in terms of outstanding service, luxurious experiences, efficiency and professionalism.” Conrad Mouton of Port Nolloth-based Aukwatowa Tours was announced Best Tourist Guide in South Africa! Runner-Up Best Tourist Guide was Kimberley-based Dr Benny Setsetse of Motsamai Tours (who is a former nationwide Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year ETEYA recipient). McGregor Museum, under the capable management of Colin Fortune, was judged runner-up Best Museum.
• The all-new Northern Cape Indaba stand notched up a Silver Award at the Best Stand Awards, assessed on stand aesthetics, messaging, branding, and perceived interaction with delegates.
• The Northern Cape Provincial Stand winners were:
• Best First Heading Out Exhibitor: Letona Guest House (Kuruman, Northern Cape)
• Best Northern Cape Tourism Brand Ambassador: Petrus Khangela (Witsand, situated at Postmasburg, Kalahari, Northern Cape)
• Best Achiever Private Sector: Okiep Country Hotel (Okiep, Northern Cape)
Aukwatoa Tours conducts tours of Port Nolloth and Richtersveld, which offers the visitor an opportunity to learn more about the flora and fauna of the Richtersveld world heritage site, home to the Nama, Bosluis Basters and other indigenous cultures. As South Africa’s only mountain desert, the visitor can also learn about traditional goat herding along the Diamond Coast. Conrad is an expert on the history, plants, animals, museums, old buildings, cultural lifestyles and hiking trails of this region, as well as displaying knowledge of marine diamond mining, 4x4 safaris and fishing activities. Traditional goat herders are often spotted mid-explorations.
Says Conrad, who lives with his girlfriend and has a 17-year-old son: “The Indaba recognition really means a lot for me, my community, Northern Cape tourism, and for South Africa for that matter. I started this business three years ago after working as a medical ordinance in the military and a deck hand on a diamond ship, then later in the fishing industry. I spotted the gap for tourism potential here and completed a CPUT guiding course. My first tourism show was the Cape Tourism Showcase, and Bennie Setsetse helped me a lot to achieve this success. This was my third year at Indaba. After I won, I really became extremely popular and I have received many enquiries from domestic and overseas tour operators. I hope to be empowered to one day sooner than later be able to employ a few people. I have been working alone, in conjunction with a local guesthouse. Many doors have now opened for me!”
“We South Africans are known to be a hard-working nation,” Conrad adds. “I am cracking it in tourism because of my passion for tourism, my belief in making something work, and my ‘Can Do’ attitude.”
Conrad cautions: “Those not working in tourism think it’s all about dollars and pounds but you must work hard for it when you start your business – and forevermore. It’s like raising a baby. Indaba is not about overnight success. The hard work begins after Indaba when you have to manage queries coming in regarding possible future bookings. I must say, though, that I have experienced more bookings during the rest of May than in previous months!”
Motsamai Travel and Tours has had the honour of providing services to the international tourist, government organisations, churches, schools, and the corporate sector. Motsamai Travel and Tours cc specializes in Sun City, Carnival City and Gold Reef City casino transfers, Soweto, Pretoria and Johannesburg day and night tours. Owner Dr Benny Setsetse is also a church leader and holds a PhD from the United States, as well , as his duties as a husband and father of four. Dr Setsetse was during 2001 privileged to act as a tourist guide for Nelson Mandela.
Commenting on Indaba, he says: “I have no words to sufficiently thank Northern Cape Tourism Authority and the Northern Cape Department of Economic Affairs, Tourism, Environment & Conservation for what they have done for me and other Northern Cape tourism entrepreneurs. My past awards have been the Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award during 2004 – at my first Indaba. That year I was also runner-up for the Gauteng National Cultural Guide Award, which I subsequently won in 2005. Indaba offers great exposure at one of the world’s top three international travel trade shows. Since my first Indaba, I have never looked back and every year the event grows bigger and better, with the added benefit of media exposure which greatly aids my business. I reckon that within ten years or less, Northern Cape will be beating the other provinces in many other ways, other than the Indaba awards we keep winning. Even after Indaba, I am taking lots of tour enquiries and bookings from Indaba delegates. You see tourism is a word of mouth thing. You can have a nice brochure but if people don’t know you, you are nothing. Each year at Indaba, people get to trust us. And when I arrived back from Indaba, I was phoned by my community and received many congratulatory SMS’s. People who didn’t even know me SMSd “You are simply the best – you make us proud.” Even now I am still sitting on Cloud 9! For my vision for Northern Cape SMMEs at Indaba five years from now, I use the Comrades Marathon as an example. I am a runner. I know that Comrades runners must, immediately after the 16 June marathon prepare themselves to run Comrades for the following year. So immediately after Indaba, Northern Cape SMMEs must sit down together and already start making appointments for next year. Even securing 3-5 appointments could clinch lucrative business deals. We need awareness raising around what Indaba is, how competitive it is between the provinces. I must say the new Northern Cape brand and Indaba stand says a lot about how seriously we are taking ourselves as a province, which brings the province much tourism business. Indaba awareness must be made with the schools, the churches, the public and the private sector. I praise the Northern Cape government and tourism authorities for their ever increasing investment and commitment into growing the tourism SMME exposure in the competitive global tourism marketplace and the annual Indaba diamond draw at our stand really works well to attract traffic to our stand. Indaba is a big platform for the SADC region, now with over 13,000 exhibitors. We can be very proud that we attend Indaba and I could never contemplate not visiting Indaba! We are privileged to be working amidst a significant tourism boom in South Africa. It has been said that tourism is the new gold standard. Coming from Kimberley, I can appropriately comment that tourism is definitely South Africa’s greatest ‘gem’, not forgetting the friendliness of the Northern Cape people. Northern Cape is the womb of South Africa, Africa, and the world. Last Sunday after church I was with my family and we were all looking at my awards and it all made sense why I had started this business in the first place…”
McGregor Museum’s Colin Fortune comments: “I have been at McGregor Museum for eight years. I can attribute our success to the fact that we are good at research, plus we took the ethno-graphic gallery from merely a gallery comprising artifacts to changing this to a photographic collection. Now the Duggan-Cronin Gallery is one of the top ten in the world! Northern Cape boasts an exceptional diversity of flora, culture and archaeological tradition, with some of the richest Stone Age sites situated around Kimberley. Artefacts and rock paintings at Wonderwerk Cave go back 1 million years…”.
Commenting on Indaba, he says, “Approximately 4 years ago we shared a stand with another company but this year’s Indaba was the first where we were out on our own. It was useful to link into discussions at Indaba with other museum exhibitors, to see how we can attract more tourists – there is a real gap at Indaba to focus more on museums in a holistic manner. Also, for McGregor Museum our achievement is great if you consider that we must compete at national level.”
The 3-star graded Letona Guesthouse, which has 10 fully airconditioned en-suite rooms, is owned by mother-of-three Mamagowa Letaba.
She says: “Indaba was a mind-blowing experience! I didn’t know what am I getting myself into. I previously worked for De Beers, starting at Finch Mine for 12 years then my husband and I were transferred to Kleinzee, Namaqualand. When my husband resigned, we found this house and Wallah! We could convert it into a guesthouse. Opportunity had struck! After Indaba I have experienced more bookings than usual – not only from locals but also from Nelspruit and Mpumalanga. Bookings usually come mainly from the local municipality, for businesspeople and for those visiting Namaqualand as it is situated along the Northern Cape route to Johannesburg. I will definitely attend Indaba again! I now feel super motivated. As a newcomer to tourism, you think you still have a long way until you receive an award, but now I am really looking forward to more competitions and opportunities to experience my establishment as it is viewed against other establishments.”
Okiep Country Hotel owner Malcolm Mostert is only 30 years old but firmly believes that travelling both domestically and abroad is one of the most vital aspects of being a tourism business owner, whether travelling for pleasure and / or a business trip, in the case of Indaba. Though having hosted guests such as Thabo Mbeki – who presented him with a bottle of whisky and complimented the establishment’s “warm welcome” by writing in Malcolm’s Visitor’s Book during his 2006 stay, also promising to return – Malcolm is not resting on his laurels.
He says: “I entered tourism by fluke. I had just returned from overseas because my parents were unwell. I stayed on at Okiep and worked at the hotel then spotted the potential. Before I knew it, my brother and I bought it from the existing shareholders. Later I bought my brother’s shares. Though this business was ready to go, I gave it a new face, the personal touch. I have upgraded, put in a swimming pool, new bedding, extra rooms…”.
“This was my fourth Indaba representing Okiep Country Hotel,” he adds. The 3-star graded establishment is an old hotel going back to the 1930s. “Indaba definitely gives us more exposure to other provinces and other markets and tour operators. We get to speak with them face to face. At Indaba we can see how Okiep, Namaqualand and Northern Cape can value add for the visitor’s travelling experience around South Africa. It’s about getting to know the people and what we have to offer, the Namaqualand by-name, the personal touch…
Malcolm, who holds a Degree in Sports Science and Psychology from Stellenbosch University, made newspaper headlines at Indaba when he proposed to his girlfriend at the bottom of an advertisement for his establishment!
“Every year I notice newcomers, plus those who were last year’s. It’s awesome to spot them progressing to the point where they can stand on their own as a business in their own right. I noticed this year that Northern Cape Tourism Authority did more in terms of the stand design, for example the convenience of the two conference rooms on our stand so exhibitors could hold meetings in privacy. I was very proud of the stand and this was the best of all 4 years I have attended Indaba. I should add that I find the establishment of the Cape Namibia Route, of which Northern Cape is an integral part, has definitely benefited my business.”
Last, but certainly not least, Witsand’s unassuming Petrus Khangela has a wife and son who are immensely proud of his Indaba achievements. He works at Witsand as Administration Manager and has been employed there for over one decade. His previous job was as a farm worker. At Indaba 2008, he was assessed Best Northern Cape Ambassador after he attracted the eyes of many a passer-by, with his talent at carefully arranging the multi-hued Kalahari Desert sand in an attractive glass receptable. So mesmerizing that one can observe him for hours!
My heartiest congratulations to the above winners!
I would love to hear from you and your perspective on how you perceive the state of tourism in Northern Cape to be presently. You can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
NORTHERN CAPE M.E.C. FOR ECONOMIC AFFAIRS, TOURISM, ENVIRONMENT & CONSERVATION