From luggage porter to general manager: this is how Peter Tshidi found himself as the custodian of a national and significant provincial tourism asset – The Wild Coast Sun.
Peter Tshidi was appointed general manager of Sun International’s Wild Coast Sun on May 1, 2019. His return to the Sun International stable came after he had initially started his journey with the group in 1997, 22 years ago at The Palace of the Lost City at Sun City.
Since then, he has gained a wealth of experience in local and international hotel operations, retail, operations management and casino operations, both with Sun International and elsewhere.
The Wild Coast Sun, Sun International’s only beachfront resort and second oldest property after Sun City, celebrated its 40th birthday at the end of 2021.
“Being back with Sun International makes me feel like I have been around the world and have come home,” he said on his appointment at the Wild Coast Sun.
Peter is hugely passionate about South Africa as a destination and sees the Eastern Cape as a largely undiscovered jewel, a wonderland of people, natural beauty and products.
He studied Hotel and Tourism Management with Fáilte Ireland, Ireland’s national tourism authority based in Galway.
“But during my career, I’ve done many other managerial short courses and management classes on a wide range of topics and skills within the industry,” he says.
“But what I found most memorable was gaining personal knowledge by talking to the people I met during these classes. I am still learning today, by engaging with people from all walks of life.”
He is not a man to rest on his laurels. He simply says: “My biggest achievement is yet to come. I am always looking to achieve more tomorrow than I did today.”
So even though the hospitality and tourism sectors were among the hardest hit by the pandemic, Peter and his dedicated team have steered the Wild Coast Sun ship through the worst of the storm.
“During December 2021 our room nights sold rose to 99% of December 2019, the closest metric we have before the pandemic began,” he says. “What is interesting to note is that the beginning of December was buoyed by an increase in conferencing business, but by mid-December, our guests were upcountry domestic travellers booking holidays for their families. They also booked longer stays with the minimum period being three days.”
He credits good rates and offering value for money as a key factor in the resort’s success. “We focused on what was within our control, which is how rates became the success story of the month.”
He believes that pent-up demand from the domestic market and easing of Covid-19 restrictions are the other factors that will help drive the recovery in the domestic tourism sector this year.
It is this drive, passion and focus that fuels a man who is family-orientated and describes his greatest achievement as his four children – one daughter and three sons.
He is a keen sportsman, enjoying running and surfing and, in his youth, turned out for Mamelodi Sundowns Under 21s. He is a huge supporter of the Brazilians, while his overseas team obviously supports Sundowns locally and internationally, he is an Arsenal fan. In rugby season, Peter’s allegiance is split between the Sharks and the EP Kings.
Musically he is a fan of Mi Casa and lists their song, La Vida, as his personal favourite, while he has come to love the seaside. “Anywhere that has gorgeous white sandy beaches.”
Has he never considered other careers? “Not really. Hospitality offers me a job that changes me all the time. It is a fast-paced environment where I am doing varied tasks each day. I am on my feet and moving around a lot which helps me think, feel, and react better. And I am not stuck in a cubicle all day.”
For those seeking to start out in the industry, he has the following sage advice. “There are many and varied job roles available in hospitality. Waiters and chefs often come to mind when one mentions a career in hospitality. In truth, the hospitality industry is one of the largest sectors in the modern world, with enough variety in job roles for any kind of person, from the creative person to the corporate-minded.”
And travel the world. “From a young age, I wanted to travel and see the world. Hospitality became the best way to fund my travels and extend my qualifications in the industry. It helps grow you as a person.”