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Collaboration in hospitality and tourism set to strengthen SA

Home Business Management Tourism Collaboration in hospitality and tourism set to strengthen SA

OPINION | SOUTH Africa’s hospitality and tourism industries have a critical role to play in boosting economic development. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, the contribution of travel and tourism to South Africa’s GDP is expected to grow by 7.6% every year over the next decade, playing a major role in driving the country’s economic recovery. In a land so beautiful and varied, the opportunity to influence lives and livelihoods is significant, says Chris Godenir, general manager of Dream Hotels and Resorts’ Peninsula All-Suite Hotel in Cape Town.

While this opportunity is largely being leveraged, there is still room for growth, which is why we’re seeing more and more industry players coming together to invest in this untapped potential. In his speech at Africa’s Travel Indaba in Durban, Deputy Minister of Tourism Fish Mahlalela emphasised this, defining hospitality and tourism operators as “catalysts of change, and architects of a future defined by cooperation and collective success”.

Here are three ways in which leading travel organisations are seeking to contribute positively to South Africa’s future.

Improving collaboration

Information sharing, open dialogue, and collaborative problem-solving are critical in effecting change. Strong lines of communication help industry players to identify common areas of concern, and to develop and implement relevant and sustainable solutions. While relationships have always existed between different organisations in hospitality and tourism, and between the private and public sectors, a lot of work has historically happened in silos.

Today, however, cross-collaboration within the sectors is on the rise, with relevant organisations and parties taking the chance to have their say. Input from small artisanal suppliers, rural local municipalities, large hospitality providers, big industry associations, and everyone in between is encouraged. And sector leaders are striving to dissolve boundaries and bureaucratic red tape so that they can foster a culture of partnership and collective action.

Driving transformation

Historically, hospitality and tourism providers tended to operate independently from the communities of which they were a part. This was especially the case in remote and rural areas where, sadly, they had the potential to exert the greatest impact. Fortunately, this has changed dramatically in the democratic era, and will continue to be a priority going forward.

Organisations have integrated corporate social investment initiatives into their modus operandi, and now work closely with community structures, donate to worthwhile causes, and partner with local non-governmental organisations to make a difference. Of course, this work leads naturally into another key area: job creation.

Prioritising job creation

Unemployment is one of the South African government’s largest priorities, and every sector has a responsibility to play their role in addressing it. Approximately 4.5% of South Africa’s population is employed in the tourism industry, many of whom support several family members and dependents.

Hospitality and tourism are in a unique position to assist people in some of the most remote regions in South Africa, particularly in areas where local economies are changing as sectors become automated or as mines close. If companies come together to train, upskill and hire people to perform critical functions, in hospitality, tourism and beyond, they could start to move the needle on unemployment in the country.

One of the most important ways in which companies across these sectors are collaborating is through an initiative called the Art of Creation. A cross-sector forum set up by Dream Hotels and Resorts, the Art of Creation aims to bring leaders in tourism together to form partnerships, to address challenges proactively and holistically, and to work together towards common goals.

This journey depends on clear communication, open debate, and innovative, future-focused thinking. With these criteria in place, industry leaders in hospitality and tourism can create long-lasting and meaningful change, contributing to a more prosperous future in South Africa.

Chris Godenir, the general manager of Dream Hotels and Resorts’ Peninsula All-Suite Hotel in Cape Town, recently won the Hotel General manager of the Year Award. This recognition was part of the inaugural FEDHASA Hospitality Awards. A total of 150 nominations were submitted for the award, among them some of the best and most forward-thinking general managers in the sector.

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