Career's expo attracts EC youngsters

Friday, September 28, 2012
Chris Bathembu

East London - The hospitality industry is one of the largest and most dynamic industries in South Africa and offers great career opportunities for youngsters.

This is according to organisers of a national tourism careers expo which opened at the East International Convention Centre on Friday.

Hundreds of school children from around the Eastern Cape attended the expo which opened earlier in the day. It seeks to help learners familiarise themselves with jobs and business opportunities offered by the multi-billion rand industry believed to be the backbone of South Africa's economy.

"Tourism and hospitality is a service industry. So the message we are sending to those who want to enter this space is that you must be able to serve and to provide any of the services found within the different value chains found in hospitality and basically the sky is the limit," organiser and Managing Director at Travel with Flair Jahanna Mukoki told SAnews.

Tourism and hospitality is among the major contributors to South Africa's GDP. On Thursday, South Africa joined the rest of the globe in celebrating the United Nations endorsed World Tourism Day.

Reports show despite the recent economic uncertainty, South Africa's hospitality industry for 2012 to 2016 is expected to improve with the demand for rooms anticipated to grow faster than supply and the overall occupancy rate to show a strong increase in growth.

Indications are that even during the financial crisis of 2009, South Africa had very few distressed hotel situations when compared with the rest of the world. Domestic tourists are still regarded as the lifeblood of South Africa's tourism industry, which is seen as a major driver of the country's economic growth.

Tourism Minister Marthinus Van Schalkwyk this week announced that almost 5, 5 million domestic trips were taken in the first quarter of 2012, which contributed R5, 2 billion to the economy. This is over R600 million, or 13%, more than last year's economic contribution over the same period.

"It takes a lot of hard work to succeed in this industry and the value of it should not be underestimated in South Africa's are only as good as the last service you give," Mukoki told a group of enthusiastic school children who had travelled long distances to see the expo.

But it would seem that even though some pupils understood the hard work required to succeed in the sector, some were more interested in the glamour that comes with it all.

"I want to be on a plane and I want to travel the world and see places and people," said 16-year-old Lindokuhle Mayabo. Her love for travelling had prompted her to learn more about hospitality and tourism. "For me it's about travelling and making money in the process."

But fellow pupil Palesa Zono seemed to be more focused in what she wants from the industry.

"My mom has been operating bed and breakfast establishments for the past 10 years and I know the value of her business. My decision to take up a career in hospitality its purely for business and nothing else because I understand the hard work and sacrifice that is needed to achieve," she said.

The expo runs until Sunday.

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