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With just days to go until the start of Africa’s Travel Indaba (ATI) 2024, over 120 hopeful and excited small medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) are preparing for the highlight of their marketing calendars.

Among these are 15 KwaZulu-Natal-based SMME’s which are part of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal’s Tourism Enterprise Development programme. They will be using every opportunity to showcase and sell their products and services to the thousands of domestic and international travel buyers attending ATI, which kicks off on Monday, May 13. 2024

Acting CEO for Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN), Mr Sibusiso Gumbi, said: “These fledgling businesses, exhibiting on the TKZN stand, have an integral part to play in the growth and development of the tourism sector. SMME’s not only contribute to job creation but are important for bringing new products to market and creating jobs.”

He pointed out that, whilst most outbound travel was dominated by corporates, 80 percent of those serving the inbound market were small, owner-managed operations. In fact, small businesses account for more than 80 percent of the tourism industry as a whole.

The KwaZulu-Natal based SMMEs that TKZN will be promoting at ATI 2024, in line with the TKZN tourism enterprise programme, offer a wide range of products and services – from transportation to accommodation to the provision of packaged tours and cultural tourism experiences.

“We want SMMEs to grow into substantial players in this critical sector of our economy. However, we know transformation will not occur spontaneously but requires deliberate and sustained effort from all stakeholders. For this reason, we have implemented various programmes to ensure that our SMMEs get the much deserved and needed support. Enabling SMMEs to attend ATI is one of the ways in which we assist emerging tourism businesses,” said Gumbi.

Among the dynamic entrepreneurs shaping KwaZulu-Natal’s tourism landscape is Nkosikhona Ndlovu, the man behind Amangonyama Tour Operator, a 100% Black-owned company in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. His mission is to deliver safety, education, and unforgettable experiences for his clients.

Ndlovu said: “For me, Africa’s Travel Indaba is a huge opportunity to showcase what we offer and to engage with potential buyers from across Africa. I am hoping to make valuable connections and secure future business opportunities,” says Ndlovu.

Then there’s Msizeni Mngadi, owner of Indlondlo Cultural Village in the Valley of a Thousand Hills. Mngadi is passionate about introducing visitors to the Zulu culture.

“Indlondlo Cultural Village is not just a destination; it is a portal into the heart and soul of the Zulu people. Here, visitors have the opportunity to delve into the essence of Zulu tradition through guided tours of traditional homesteads, captivating displays of dance and drumming, and interactive activities that allow for a hands-on exploration of Zulu customs, “ said Ndlovu.

Biweda Nguni Lodge & Tandweni Villa are two hidden gems nestled in the heart of Zululand in Northern KZN, owned by Danica Bartho and her mother. These ventures have a mission close to their hearts – empowerment. Biweda Nguni Lodge offers a blend of comfort and affordability, with farmhouse charm, while Tandweni Villa offers a luxurious safari experience.

Both lodges are not just places of accommodation. They are sanctuaries of opportunity for local women. With a focus on empowerment and skill development, Bartho and her team provide a safe haven for previously disadvantaged women to flourish within the tourism industry.

Bartho is eager to showcase their projects to the world at ATI 2024. “This is not just about business; it’s about forging connections, sharing stories, and opening doors to new opportunities and continuing our commitment to empowering women and promoting sustainable tourism,”

Other SMME’s exhibiting include Dumi Legacy Tours offering safari experiences at the iSimangaliso Wetland and Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Parks as well as snorkel safaris and elephant interactions. King Shaka Golf Tours offers both daily tourism and golfing tours in eThekwini, while Khondlo Tours offers adventure travel across KZN.

Durban based Inkazimulo Travel Solutions, Excellent Shuttle and Diverse Travel provide essential services such as booking and shuttle services for conferences, events, tours, and airport transfers.

Accommodation options owned by SMMEs extend from Nokusho Guesthouse in Umbumbulu to James iLenge Mountain Lodge, a rural getaway in the mountain of KZN, from the luxurious Tandweni Villa safari lodge within the Pongola Game Reserve on the banks of Jozini Dam to Cynthia’s Hive Estate which is a wedding and functions venue in KwaDukuza. All are examples of SMMEs adding value to small town economies.

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