Durban - South Africa is mourning the death of Anitha Soni, who was instrumental in the rebranding of South Africa and, as chairwoman of Brand South Africa, consolidated efforts to reform South Africa’s image domestically and internationally.
Soni, 57, died on Saturday after an illness.
She graduated in hotel management in 1978 and was chosen to participate in the US and South African Executive Leadership Development Programme in Boston, in the US.
After working in the tourism corporate sector and in education, she founded the ASA Tourism Services Group in 1989.
Soni was involved in executive management positions in the hotel and tourism sector in South Africa and the US, lecturing and training many of today’s leaders in the South African tourism industry.
She also served as special adviser to the tourism minister and was a consultant in the drafting of South Africa’s National Tourism White Paper.
Soni led the development of the Tourist Guiding Policy for South Africa and acted in the capacity of deputy director-general in the then tourism section of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
She served on various tourism boards. Her endeavours earned her an award from the Foundation for Excellence in 1995 and 2002 as Business Woman of the Year.
Brand South Africa’s chairwoman, Chichi Maponya, said: “Soni led the rebranding of the then International Marketing Council to Brand South Africa. It was during her tenure that Brand South Africa began to focus on the domestic market as well as the international. This was based on the understanding that a successful national brand is built by citizens, from the inside out.
“We express our deepest condolences to her loved ones and colleagues.”
Soni fell ill in September last year. Her husband, Vas Soni, resigned from his post as Head of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in January to care for her. He resigned while heading the investigation into the expenditure carried out in the upgrades to President Zuma’s Nkandla home.
President Jacob Zuma extended his condolences to Soni’s family on Sunday.
She loved her country and was always ready to perform any task aimed at promoting investments, growth and job creation.
“She is gone too soon. We extend our deepest condolences to advocate (Vas) Soni and the whole family.”
She leaves her husband and two daughters, Nalika and Prianka.