This Tourism Week. 4 October 2012

This week:

Doctoral thesis questions the mechanisms of BEE in tourism  

International accolade for Uthando 

Books: The story of life and the environment – an African perspective 

(You can read these article below, or click on the links above to read them on line)

Bragging rights: Just so that you know. Your favourite tourism web site was unavailable for a few hours at the end of last month – but for the best of reason: it had reached its bandwidth limit because it had welcomed … wait for it … more than 21,000 unique visitors (who used more than 3 gigs of data) in less than 28 days.

Thank you all for your incredible support!

Doctoral thesis questions the mechanisms of BEE in tourism  

Happy to report that Theuns Vivian – readers in theWestern Capemight remember him as thegeneralmanager of the old Western Cape Tourism Board – received his doctorate (DTech) in Tourism & Hospitality Management from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology on September the 21st.   

Huge congratulations! You don’t get doctors of tourism in every coach or guest house.   

Especially for smaller businesses, the title of Theuns’ (sorry, Dr. Vivian’s) thesis must draw immediate attention: ‘Tourism business growth with specific reference to black economic empowerment in the tour operating sub sector inSouth Africa.”  

Just a quick bit of background: Theuns, who currently works for the City of Cape Town as its Destination Development Manager, has a BEcon from the University of Stellenbosch (1984), a BCom honours from Unisa (1987) and an MCom from Stellenbosch (2000) –  and he is also the holder of a Good Samaritan Award (from the then Minister for Tourism, Pallo Jordan) for his dedication and commitment to tourism and the people of South Africa.  

His master’s thesis was titled ‘Increased tourism flow through utilisation of excess capacity in air transport”.

And when I asked him how me managed all this – he’s married with children – he said, “Through this long and hard struggle – working and studying at the same time is a killer – I developed my own bit of wisdom: To be successful, you need at least one person to believe in you… even if it’s just yourself.”

So you see he’s also quite a nice oke.   

For his doctorate, he studied the level of black economic empowerment (BEE) amongst tour operators, and also tried to determine measures that would expedite the establishment of BEE in the sub-sector.   

“My research indicates that the vast majority of tour operators in South Africa are small businesses – with 62,3% reporting turnovers of R 2,5 million or less per annum, and 63,9% indicating that they employ two or people or less,” he said.  

“But only 14,3% of respondents were 100% black owned.”  

He said that the size of the enterprises he studied makes it difficult for them to attract investment or for them to involve previously disadvantaged individuals (PDIs), since it’s almost impossible for them to offer equity or stock options – and these are important vehicles for bringing PDIs into positions of ownership.  

“72% of respondents indicated that they support BEE in principle, but only 61,8% of them have been able to implement any of the seven pillars of BEE scorecard, and the degrees of implementation vary according to the different components of the scorecard.”  

In the scorecard – unlike in narrow-based economic empowerment models –  equity ownership counts for 20%, while management counts for 10%. The other five pillars of the scorecard – the indirect empowerment pillars – are employment equity (15%); skills development (15%); preferential procurement (20%); enterprise development (15%) and socio-economic development (5%).

“Perhaps not surprisingly, the procurement and social investment pillars achieved the best results,” said Theuns.   

Ingeneral, he believes that his findings might be a little controversial, “Because it’s about a principle, and the fact that people like to apply principles when they suit them.  

“But in fact, BEE is not a punitive measure – it’s a new opportunity to expand into new markets.   

“But amongst small businesses, people can still choose whether they want to do that or not.  

“In order to grow the tour-operator sub-sector and create opportunities for the expansion of BEE, government needs to provide training and education as well as dedicated incentives to help gain access to markets and capital.   

“The thing is, though, that the bulk of the people I interviewed have not made use of the existing incentive schemes because they’re looking for finance for marketing – and this is where SA Tourism and similar provincial bodies have such an important role to play.   

“At the old Western Cape Tourism Board, we focused on providing overseas marketing opportunities, and making them dirt cheap for product owners – so that they could do what they do best.    

“It isn’t government’s job to create and sell things like packages: government’s job is to create an enabling environment in which the operators can do that – and that often means subsidising the cost of trade shows.  

“But the present structures aren’t seeing this: at an international trade show I attended last year, I found a well-known black tourism operator occupying his own stall directly opposite the SA Tourism stand – and he said he was forced to do this, because the cost of exhibiting with SA Tourism had become exorbitant.  

“It was cheaper for him to go it alone.   

“The second point that seems clear to me is that we’re making a big mistake by looking only at the numbers in BEE – we’re not comparing apples with apples.   

“There’s a lot of good will amongst small operators, which are predominantly white-owned. They do a lot of work in their communities, and they usually source from local suppliers wherever they can. But it’s difficult and expensive for them to comply – or even to measure their compliance.   

“There are so many entities to which they need to subscribe – the Tourism Grading Council, the green labels – that if government wants the operators to verify their BEE status, it needs to subsidise the process heavily.   

“Think about it this way: if a business that’s turning over R 2.5 million a year returns a 10% profit, that’s only R 250,000 a year – or twenty thousand a month.  

“For that kind of money, you’d be better off taking a job at your local municipality.”  

Theuns’ research questions the suitability of all the pillars of the tourism BEE scorecard – because, he said, the scorecard was written for big business, which has the means and the expertise to put BEE into practice.   

“The small guys are doing it: they’re putting a lot into uplifting and empowering people, but they’re doing it in their own ways, which often don’t reflect in their scorecards – if they’re even bothering with scorecards.”  

One of the big challenges that came to the fore was the position of the airlines – and especially SAA – in the scorecard.  

“If you use SAA as a supplier, how do you incorporate its BEE status into your score? Is SAA private or state owned?   

“Many operators spend up to a third of their turnover on air fairs, but during my telephone interviews with they, they expressed the difficulty of incorporating SAA into their scoring because it’s basically a state-owned enterprise – and they complained about the exorbitant cost of getting professionals to do these calculations.  

“So my plea is that is that we need a separate score card for small businesses – and not just for small businesses in tourism.”  

Theuns also posed a question which must be on the minds of many small business owners: “If BEE and equity are the principles through which you provide PDIs with a slice of the cake – does the principle apply to 100% black-owned businesses too?  

“You can’t have an obligation that affects only one section of the economy,” he said.   

“What’s good for the goose must be good for the gander.”  

So what’s the answer if we want to see BEE really take off?  

“Yes, we need to relook at the score card – but the bottom line is that we need growth. Massive growth thought entrepreneurship – the true Shumpeter definition of new and novel ideas: not just copying existing businesses and business models, but creating what’s known as ‘fast growth’ entrepreneurial enterprises.   

“Government’s package of incentives should strive to support this,” said Theuns.  

“This will enable expansion of business, the development of start-ups, the effective implementation of BEE, and so forth. If we merely switch the hands of ownership, the nett effect won’t bring change toSouth Africa.  

“Every Tom, Dick, and Harry calls himself an entrepreneur – which many are not.    

“Another tour operator with the same product mix, blah, blah, blah?  Undertaking a new business (same of the old) makes you an … undertaker? business owner? businessperson? – I don’t know: it just sounds so much better to be called an entrepreneur.

“True entrepreneurs struggle to get finance, especially from banks that require proven business models and business plans, but there’s nothing innovative in that. Again, if we carry on doing what we’ve always done, the nett effect wont be change won’t bring change toSouth Africa.  

“Look atMalaysia- they achieved their equivalent of BEE in a much shorter time than planned, and they ascribe this to massive growth.  

“But how we achieve that – well, that wasn’t part of this study.”  


RESULTS: Theuns’ doctoral work has lead to the submission of two articles to accredited journals. These articles are currently undergoing peer review, and he’s awaiting the outcomes.  

Some of his preliminary results on entrepreneurship were published in conference papers in 2004 (SAIMS), and as ‘Tourism Entrepreneurship – When is it entrepreneurial and when is it small business?’ in the Entrepreneurship Policy Journal (USA) 2004.

The outcomes of his DTech research were presented at the CPUT Research Conference in September 2012.

International accolade for Uthando

Regular readers will know of James Fernie and his brilliant upliftment-through-tourism project, Uthando ( – and now the world is going to know about them, too, thanks to our very own Skål International

Earlier this week – at the 73rd Skål International World Congress in South Korea- Uthando was named the winner of a prestigious Sustainable Development in Tourism Award in the category ‘Cities – Villages (Community and Government Projects).’

The news is so hot, in fact, that I can’t tell you much more – I haven’t received the media release yet – but if you look at only a few of the things that James highlighted in a mail he sent out shortly after the announcement, you’ll see why Uthando really deserves this accolade:

“I want to thank all the friends of Uthando who have supported our work over the years. We are extremely grateful for your love, kindness and support. There is so much news to report on and so many things happening at the projects, a more detailed newsletter will be sent shortly but please see below some points on which I couldn’t wait to report.

” The Safari Awards 2012 – Uthando has emerged as a finalist in the 2012 Safari Awards to be announced on the 5th of November inLondon.

“Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2012 – This week Uthando received a certificate of excellence from Trip Advisor for the feedback received from guests on our tours.

“Official opening of Kiddies Educare this Saturday 6 October – We are very excited that the official opening of Kiddies Educare is taking place this Saturday. Margaret has run her day care centre for over a decade out of a terrible little shack with limited basic facilities. Together with SAEP, Uthando has transformed her shack into a brand new building. The contributions from Uthando’s side come largely from Nico and Corry Hooijmaaijer and the Mitialto Foundation inBelgium. Thanks also go to Kevin and Christine Jeras for their investment in the jungle-gym.

“The Mount Nelson Hotel selects Uthando as their official Social Development Project – The Nellie has come up with a very innovative way of raising funds through its guests, and the money raised will go to the Hout Bay Music Project (a youth development project teaching children to play classical music). Members of the top management of the hotel have now visited several projects with Uthando and I am extremely grateful for their time, enthusiasm and commitment.” (Watch a video of the Hout Bay Music Project Performing Live in Maastrichthere.  Beware: tears of pride may ensue).

” Thokozani Brothers Youth Development (Choir Group) – The Rotary Club of Kirstenbosch has selected The Thokozani Brothers Choir (which comes  from the modest informal settlement of Town Two in Khayelitsha) to perform the opening act in front of 6,000 people at Carols By Candlelight on Thursday, December 13th, in the amphitheatre at Kirstenbosch Gardens.

“This is remarkable recognition of the choir’s incredible talent, and this is the quality of talent of all the projects with which Uthando has the great privilege and pleasure of working.

“Much love and gratitude from Uthando.


Visit Uthando at and on Facebook and follow James on Twitter 

The story of life and the environment – an African perspective

By Jo van As, Johann du Preez, Leslie Brown, and Nico Smit (Soft cover, published by Struik Nature). 

With all the skullduggery about fracking that’s going on at the moment – the climate change denialism and such – and with the terrible threat to the environment that’s hanging over the beloved Karoo, it’s as well to remember exactly what it is that those of us whom the denialists condescendingly call ‘greens’ are so keen to protect.

And that would be – life itself.

Maybe we are the only populated planet in the universe, and maybe we aren’t – but the reality is that we have only this one planet, and we’re fools to want to kill it.

‘The Story of Life and the environment – an African Perspective’ explains why. 

This is a wide ranging book, with chapters about life on earth (including information that ranges from things like the big bang theory and the solar system, to the development of cells, the development of separate sexes, mass extinctions – and even what the global apocalypse which occurred 65 million years ago might have felt like); the diversity of life today; how our world – and its populations – work; the communities and interactions that support life; life in fresh and salt water, and on land; and the rise of humans.

And – the shills and the denialists are going to hate this – there’s even a chapter called “Caring for our planet.”

Besides the fact that the foreword was written by everyone’s favourite educator, Prof. Jonathan Jansen (Vice-chancellor and Rector of the University of theFree State), there are many things to like about this superb 456 pager.

It’s beautifully illustrated with hundreds of pictures and diagrammes (look at the images taken by various different microscopes which appear on page 55: man, there’s so much to learn, and some of it we’re only just starting to see!). It’s the kind of book that you can dip into if you’ve got a passing interest in a subject – or it’s the kind that can start you on a journey of discovery that could lead you down any of a thousand highways of knowledge.

And it belongs in the guest library of every game lodge and nature reserve – and you’ll want to have one for yourself, too.

Buy it at the BarefootBookshop.

Now go away on holiday. It’s in the economy’s best interest

With best Barefoot Wishes – M

MARTIN HATCHUEL, Barefoot Writer

Specialist writer for the tourism industry
Social media & advertising
Media management
Responsible tourism
Cell +27(0)84 951 0574
Fax +27(0)86 614 8853
Skype: reefgod
PO Box 2690 Knysna 6570

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