Nomasonto Ndlovu was appointed to lead South African Tourism as its new Acting Chief Executive Officer in May just a few days to this year’s Africa’s Travel Indaba. Prior to that, she was the COO of the organization. She brings to her new position years of experience within the country’s vast tourism value chain, having previously served as CEO of Limpopo Tourism. In this exclusive interview with VoyagesAfriq, Sonto, as she is affectionately called shares her pillars for executing her mandate of leading the organsiation responsible for marketing and promoting destination South Africa as a must-visit for tourists globally.
How does it feel to lead the organisation now?
Undoubtedly, this is a mammoth task, and it does feel a bit overwhelming. It helps that I have been in tourism for almost 20 years, thus have a lot of experience in this sector. Leading the organisation right now is a big responsibility and an interesting challenge but one that I am willing to take on. I am fortunate in that I have a fully supportive and experienced Executive Committee and senior management team, most of whom have been in the organisation for a long time. There is no doubt, we have had a turbulent start to the year and that may have threatened the stability of South African Tourism also the image of our organisation.
What is important for me is that we remain focused on executing our marketing mandate and continuously increasing arrivals to South Africa so we can contribute to our economy. The work done by SA Tourism in 24 key markets that we focus on, via our 9 offices around the world is very important. We have some of the most talented and experienced people at SA Tourism and I am confident that we will come out at the end of this year with great performance results.
Fortunately, I am also leading the organisation when the greater tourism sector has an even more appetite to collaborate. This means that there are more opportunities for greater collaboration to create real magic for the organisation and the greater tourism industry.
What will be your driving pillars/ force even in this acting capacity?
Firstly, I love working with hard working and dedicated people and getting ideas from the various experts that there are in the organization and in our wider network of stakeholders and partners. What really drives me is seeing in action a team that is fully committed to delivering on its mandate. Our focus as SA Tourism is to ensure we meet our mandate of increasing tourist arrivals to our country as well as growing domestic tourism so that we can contribute to our country especially on job creation. We continue to apply our best available resources to do so – we are driven to meet our targets and our immediate vision is to return to full recovery of the sector.
The big driving force for me in my acting capacity will be how much of the work we are doing at SA Tourism gets to contribute to positively influencing the image and perception various people have of our country and how that translates to people visiting South Africa, but most importantly, how much our work contributes to inclusive economic growth.
How would you describe this year’s Africa’s Travel Indaba?
This year’s Africa’s Travel Indaba was truly a step in the right direction towards a more cohesive and united and collaborative tourism sector. Africa’s Travel Indaba remains a powerful platform to showcase the best of our continent’s tourism sector to the world. Seeing the number of products exhibited not only from our country but from the rest of the continent too cemented this year’s theme of “Unlimited Africa’. We remain committed to our plans to grow African representation at this mega travel exhibition, and it was encouraging that we had 22 African countries exhibiting this year.
In addition to this, seeing young people from various tourism educational institutions in the province, enthusiastically working at the show while gaining first-hand exposure is truly special.Tourism is one sector that can meaningfully contribute to youth empowerment and this happened at Africa’s Travel Indaba. SA Tourism employed no less than 100 tourism students from the Durban University of Technology to work on Indaba this year.
In addition to this, through the various services required, we were able to also hire some black-owned businesses and therefore contribute to an inclusive economy. Close to 200 tourism businesses and SMMEs were also supported and got to be part of the exhibition floor showcasing a wide variety of their products.
This article was first published in the July 2023 issue of VoyagesAfriq Travel Magazine