TOURISM in Ndlambe received a boost when delegates from all over South Africa gathered at the My Pond Hotel on Monday for a meeting of the Tourism Educators South Africa (Tesa).
The meeting was opened by Dr Rishi Balkaran, executive dean of the management science faculty of Durban University of Technology (DUT). He introduced Ndlambe municipal manager Rolly Dumezweni on behalf of mayor Sipho Tandani who was unable to attend due to a previous appointment.
A VIEW TO CHANGE: Chairman of Higher Education South Africa (HESA) and vice chancellor of Durban University of Technology, professor Ahmed Bawa addressed delegates from all over the country at the Tourism Educators South Africa (Tesa) conference, held at My Pond Hotel on Monday Picture: ROB KNOWLES
“It is fitting that professionals from the field of hospitality and tourism education converge here in Port Alfred,” said Dumezweni, “as we are the heart of the Sunshine Coast. As you can see, we have arranged a perfect sunny day for you today.”
The Tesa conference is intended to bring educators together to tackle the opportunities for tourism in South Africa. They plan to change or develop secondary and primary educational institutions to place more emphasis on tourism and hospitality management in their curricula.
They also want to assist students at Further Education and Training (FET) institutions to receive academic accreditation for practical subjects to enable them to attain higher qualifications in their chosen profession.
The plan also focuses attention on the training of teachers and college/university lecturers to enable them more opportunities to teach to the necessary standard.
Keynote speaker at the conference, chairman of Higher Education South Africa (HESA) and vice chancellor of DUT, professor Ahmed Bawa, spoke to TotT before his address and gave some further insights into tourism and the hospitality industry in South Africa.
“Did you know that 63-million people visited South Africa between 1999 and 2009?” he asked.
“Government is attempting to increase tourism’s role in the economy from its current 6-8% of GDP (Gross Domestic Profit) to around 12%. That will create around 400 000 new jobs.”
Prior to returning to South Africa Bawa, who holds a PhD in theoretical physics from Durham University in the UK, also served as the associate provost and professor of physics at the University of New York. His experience in tertiary education and management science is highly sought after.
“The failure of our schooling system has presented us with problems,” said Bawa. “We now have to ‘re-imagine’ the school system and improve it.”
Bawa said the challenge to tourism was it being highly service-orientated, requiring high levels of service. He said a better schools educational system was also needed together with the need to train teachers and initiate dialogue among the various role players including educationalists, industry, businesses and government, if South Africa was to have a self-sustaining and viable hospitality industry.
But, warned Bawa, there is a balance.
“We don’t want tourism and hospitality to become the dominant industries in South Africa,” he said. “That, in itself, presents a whole new set of challenges and effects cultures and how people have to think. But, at 12% of GDP tourism will continue to be a major contributor to the country’s economy.”
“Tesa is a conduit,” Balkaran said. “We are a think tank. We need to get all role players together to discuss the way forward. We need to give more support to teachers and allow them the opportunity to attain higher qualifications. Today, a master’s degree is typically required for secondary and tertiary teachers. We also need to develop a mechanism whereby teachers can be trained further.
“We also need to get research done and create a journal. Staff and students can undertake this research and Tesa can coordinate it.”