DURBAN -  Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN) has enhanced it’s small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) incubation programme not only to assist emerging entrepreneurs but also to ensure that their businesses experienced sustainable development and growth. 

The programme focusing on leisure tourism SMMEs operating as tour operators, travel agents and accommodation establishments now has an enhanced strategy directly aimed at helping these emerging businesses survive during the start-up phase of which most are most vulnerable.

TKZN acting chief executive Phindile Makwakwa said their incubation programme has now guided dozens of emerging business to success over the years and also generated immense interest amongst up and coming tourism entrepreneurs. “

The programme aims to bring the emerging previously disadvantaged operators into mainstream tourism and offers entrepreneurs invaluable and practical support,” said Makwakwa. 

Just one of the many offerings to be found in Durban Picture: TKZN Facebook
The programme sees up-and-coming bed and breakfast and guest house owners, tour operators and travel agents and owners of tourism attractions being skilled and developed with focus including market support enabling them to take part in trade  and consumer shows like the Africa’s Travel  Indaba and The Travel and Adventure Show where they can  interact directly with potential consumers.  

The three years incubation programme followed a hybrid business incubator model comprising both physical and virtual incubation support. As part of the programme’s market access initiative, incubatees were given the opportunity and support to participate in trade show and exhibitions. 

Founder of Nongoma Siyavaya Tours Londiwe Ngcamu said that she felt that she could stand independently and market her own business as a result of being part of this programme. Her business idea came from from originating in an an area where six of the Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini’s palaces are based.

“There was an opportunity in bridging the gap between that results from the misunderstanding that happens between tourists and the royal household. Now people do have access to the palace as long as they book prior and follow protocol,” said Ngcamu.

Nongoma Siyavaya Tours also offers other products in domestic tourism for individuals who may have no information about their Zulu traditional background to experience it. They also provided for foreign tourists who may want to learn before and after the well known events happening in the royal palaces that drawing international audiences.  

St Lucia-based Theo Tours owner, Xolani Gina, said the firm provided authentic Zulu experiences to international tourists by taking them to the rural areas to experience what happens there in the modern day. 

“We also do bicycle tours in the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, school tours and game drives that go into the Hluhluwe and Umafolozi Game Park,”  said Gina.  
Gina said that when he started out in 2010, it was hard especially to market in this competitive environment. “

Being in this programme has linked me up with two tour agents from France and Holland who help bring me many tourists interested in our products.”  

He said that his business was really booming as he had managed to make in excess of R100 000 in the past six months. 

At least 150 000 tourists from Germany, the UK and the US visit KwaZulu-Natal every year, which makes this the second biggest international key source market for the province.
Other black owned tourism that have benefited in the programme include Street Scene Tours, Romatlo Travel, La Teranga Guest House, The View Boutique Hotel and Spa, Dukuduku B&B, Lala Khona B&B, Leisure Holidays and Ekhaya Boutique Hotel amongst others.

The businesses were currently exhibiting at KZN Travel Adventure Show which started on July 5 to July 8 to about 10 000 consumers at the Durban Exhibition Centre.

- BUSINESS REPORT