The SMMEs, which form part of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal’s Enterprise and Development Incubator Programme, offer services ranging from travel and tour packages that showcase the natural beauty of KZN, its cultural attractions and heritage sites to tourism adventure and leisure activities. These include Dukuduku B&B, Siyavaya Tours, Theo Tours, Romaflo Travel and Tours, African Wild Travel, and Amamboma Tours and Travel.
Other exhibitors include Lala Khona B&B and Ekhaya Boutique Hotel.
Busisiwe Malanda, owner of Lala Khona, a bed and breakfast operating in the small South Coast town of uMzimkhulu, grew up in the area and understands the Bhaca culture.
The uMzimkhulu area is known for its history of once being a border to the former Transkei, attracting a mixture of Zulu and Xhosa clans. The mixture of both clans resulted in a new culture called isiBhaca.
Malanda has used this knowledge to her advantage to teach and expose the culture to her guests.
She offers her guests a feel of the Bhaca culture, food, music and traditions.
“We are situated in the R56 route for travellers heading in and out of destinations through the Eastern Cape. The long routes are exhausting, with very few towns and B&Bs along the way. Having a town with a service station and my B&B just a few kilometres away from it is our advantage at Lala Khona,” she said.
“Travellers from all parts of the province who use the R56 routes or those who want to explore more of the Bhaca culture, can just book in and enjoy a cosy stay to experience the Bhaca land,” she said.
The establishment has been running for seven years. Malanda said the incubation programme had helped her to market and develop her business, which led to her opening a second B&B in Margate.
Lizeka Shandu is a 40-year-old tour operator from African Wild Travel. Shandu’s love for the industry also led to her meeting her husband, who is also a tour operator with international experience, and this has helped her to develop her business.
Shandu is a co-owner of African Wild Travel with her husband, whom she met in Germany when South African Tourism and the German government offered a one-year internship in that country.
Taking into account the romantic story of how travel brought her closer to her fate, Shandu’s travel management company puts together leisure packages catering for romantic holiday getaways as well as for families and groups.
Her husband’s international connections have helped to boost the business’s profile and the patronage of international guests. Shandu goes the extra mile for her guests and allows for a lot of flexibility, so her guests can tailor-make their own packages.
“My business is exposed on the Sho’t Left website, as 90% of my clients come from there. We don’t only focus on KZN, but we also offer national and international packages. We have international leisure packages such as giving our clients a Dubai experience and more,” she said.
Lindiwe Ngcamu, 37, owns Nongoma Siyavaya tours which offers packages that sometimes include a tour of no less than six iconic Zulu palaces in the area.
King Goodwill Zwelithini’s four royal palaces are scattered across the town and are a strong focus of her tours. Ngcamu takes her guests to visit the royal palaces, including the Khethomthandayo Palace, Kwakhangelamankengane Palace, Linduzulu Palace and the Enyokeni Palace.
Ngcamu’s packages include visits to the site of the annual Reed Dance.
“Educating and taking my guests to these places excites me, because I get to share the beautiful history that we have here. We do not limit ourselves to religious and cultural tours, but also cater for beach (holidays), cruises and so much more because KZN has a lot to offer,” she said.
Xolani Theo Gina of Theo Tours started his tour operating business in 2010. He works closely with Dutch and French travel agents to attract tourists to the province.
Theo Tours offers educational, adventure and cultural tourism for local and international tourists. Gina specialises in popular bicycle tours around the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and takes guests on tours around St Lucia, within the wetland park, Hluhluwe and Umfolozi Park.
He also offers cultural tours for international guests who are interested in experiencing authentic Zulu life.
“We don’t only offer cultural tourism, we also offer school educational tours in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. We work with a lot of schools across the country and take them on excursions.
“Schoolchildren learn a lot about wild territory sites at school. Most have never been exposed to the wildlife. We want our learners to know about these areas so that they can become ambassadors and talk about their experiences,” Gina said.
Gina has also formed partnerships with hospitality establishments in the area such as the Dukuduku B&B.