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This month our focus is on tourism and the anticipated boom in SA; we feature Annemarie and Rhys van Wyk and Salome Tshungu in our success stories; and David Marobe offers some advice on how to ride the wave of seasonality.
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September 2013   |   Volume 5.9

SA on the cusp of a major tourism boom

South Africa is on the cusp of a major tourism boom, but it will only materialise if local tourism businesses can resist the temptation to put up their prices as the number of tourists continues to climb.

This is according to Anton Roelofse, Regional General Manager of Business Partners, the leading financier to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa. Reflecting on the state of the industry as it enters tourism month, Roelofse sees several factors combining to create a “perfect spring” for one of the country’s most important job-creating sectors, with the most dramatic contributor being the fall of the rand, by as much as 25% over the past 20 months or so, which has once again made South Africa a sought-after affordable tourism destination.

He says that although the weak rand causes widespread pain throughout the economy, tourism is one of the sectors that benefits from it. “Combined with other factors such as the emergence of Europe and the US from hard times, the awakening of a fast-growing African middle class to the pleasures of tourism, and the lingering afterglow of the 2010 World Cup, the weak rand could usher in an unprecedented tourism boom”.

Success story:
A hidden jewel among the tourist shops

Jade, a unique jewellery business in Stellenbosch, does not stand out much among the clutter of curio and coffee shops in the heart of the Stellenbosch tourist district. Its simple name and quiet stylishness hides the careful balance that it has to maintain through wild exchange-rate and seasonal fluctuations. And it is only after speaking to the young couple who own the jewellery shop that you realise that the biggest thing it hides is its potential. 

It’s been a month since Annemarie van Wyk, 25,  and her husband Rhys van Wyk, 29, have taken full ownership of the shop, having bought it from Annemarie’s mom Karin Delport, who founded the business seven years ago and carved out a distinctive niche in the jewellery trade.

Success story:
Entrepreneur finds a natural home in hospitality trade

In August 2012 Salome Tshungu brought her 100-year-old father out from her ancestral home in rural Limpopo to her luxury guest house in Midrand to celebrate his centenary.

She showed the aged former teacher around the four-star establishment with its 21 rooms, arranged as a “cultural village” dedicated to South Africa’s vanishing cultures, the luxurious conference centre, wedding facilities, gym and spa.

When she saw her father, his mind still sharp as ever, having a quiet chuckle to himself she asked him: Why are you laughing? He told her that he realised that this sanctuary of hospitality that she was showing him had been a long time coming.

Riding the roller coaster of seasonal fluctuations

The inherent seasonality of some businesses is neatly illustrated by the way accommodation establishments take turns at feast and famine in South Africa. At certain times of the year, a great wave of bed-and-breakfast customers pushes inland as they travel to the economic hub of Gauteng on business while coastal beds stand empty. But come holiday season, the wave rushes outwards and the coastal establishments get to feast while the Gauteng accommodation industry wonders how to survive the lean months.

Seasonality in the tourism industry is particularly marked, but it is a reality that many businesses have to grapple with, sometimes because of the fluctuations of demand and in other cases because of supply, for example of rainfall in the horticultural industries, says David Morobe, Business Partners regional manager.

For Morobe, one of the marks of true entrepreneurship is how ably business owners adapt to and even counter seasonality in their industries. He gives the following tips on how to ride the roller coaster of seasonal fluctuations:
Poll results Do you think South Africa’s next tourism boom will materialise?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Only if tourism businesses don’t inflate prices
View previous polls

Congratulations the 2013 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® winners:

Entrepreneur of the Year®: Tommy Makhatho, Bibi Cash and Carry

Emerging Business Entrepreneur of the Year®: Jonathan Pepler, Silverline Group

Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year®: Andrew & Chris Brown, The Daily Buzz

Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year®: Anton Rossouw, Life Path Health

Innovator of the Year: Mariaan du Plessis & Conrad Smith, MNI

Job Creator of the Year: Tommy Makhatho, Bibi Cash and Carry

Lifetime Achiever Award: Margaret Hirsch, Hirsch’s
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