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Women In Tourism In KwaZulu-Natal


Lizeka Shandu is the proud owner of African Wild Travel which offers affordable travel packages for both domestic and international travelers.

From her experience of working with other tourism companies, Shandu was influenced to start the business after noticing a drop in the domestic travel packages that were available.

African Wild Travel which has a staff of six women strives to sell South African tour packages that are affordable and suitable for the domestic market.

Shandu wants the company to grow and she would like to assist and mentor other small tour operators in the industry.

Tourism KwaZulu-Natal has provided Shandu with great access to the tourism market. African Wild Travel has exhibited at the Travel Indaba as well as the Netherlands Travel Show.

As a woman in the tourism industry, Shandu has experienced challenges finding programmes to assist women to grow, However, she has taken it upon herself to find ways to create such a space for women in the industry.

During Women’s Month, Shandu wants women to be recognized for the role they play in the world, to be trusted and to be given opportunities to grow and conquer greater heights.

“Those women who have become successful should mentor younger women and those in disadvantaged areas,” she said.


Makhosi Msimango, owner of Ndzenga Tours and Safaris, is so passionate about cultural heritage and township tourism that she was recently elected as the KwaZulu-Natal chairperson of SA Women in Tourism.

“I am passionate about Zulu culture and my people. That is why in my business, the person comes first before anything else.

“If my clients and employees are satisfied, then I know we are heading in the right direction to achieve success in the business,” the mother of two, who enjoys swimming with the sharks in Umkomaas, said.

Msimango grew up in rural KwaZulu-Natal at eTholeni near eMsinga. When her parents moved to Durban, she attended Westville Girls High School.

She acquired a BCom degree in Entrepreneurship through UNISA, has a Diploma in Project Management, a Diploma in Events & Exhibition Management, and is currently studying towards a Tourism Management Degree. As part of her education, she also lived in Denmark.

Between 2006 and 2011, she was the Chief Operations Officer for Ingabadi Group, an Afrocentric company with interests in marketing, digital media, political communication and research services.

In 2012, Msimango started Ndzenga Tours & Safaris, the first 100% black woman-owned tour operator company in KwaZulu-Natal which specializes in cultural heritage tourism. She employs eight people.

When she attended her first reed dance ceremony, she noticed that tourists were not being taken care of “and some were even turned away due to their dress code not being appropriate”. Upon this realisation, she did her homework and found her niche market in cultural tourism.

She was grateful to Tourism KwaZulu-Natal for affording her marketing exposure which has helped bring in more business.

In 2015, she was featured in the Destiny Magazine where she described the challenges she had to overcome in the white male-dominated tourism industry.

In 2016, she started Qhawekazi Foundation where she trained young and old women in tourism-related businesses.

“The goal was to give women in rural and township areas a platform to start or improve on their tourism businesses to ensure they run sustainable profitable businesses which are able to compete globally.”

In 2017 Msimango volunteered as a Board Member for the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa – the first woman in the tourism industry to be a member of the Board.

In 2018 she won the MEC’s Award at the Lilizela Awards for service excellence.

Msimango said her ambition is not only for Ndzenga Tours to be a sustainable, profitable business but also to ensure that rural areas, and rural women in particular, are part of tourism “and not mere spectators or entertainers”.

“These are people who were systematically excluded by the racist Government, but also to some extent, by the current government too.

“The exclusion of rural women is systematic; they don’t have land, financial means and are not skilled.

“Despite all of these challenges, these women are the back born of the rural economy.

“Tourism can play an important role in assisting women to be empowered and to participate in the mainstream economy,” said Msimango, who is in much demand as a public speaker.

Her advice to developing SMMEs in the tourism industry is for them to always love what they do.

“Do your homework and stay informed about the industry. Lastly, ensure your support structure is strong especially from family and also have a mentor who you seek advice from.

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