It all started in the second term of my Grade 9 year when we attended a career orientation to help us select which subjects to carry through to Matric. I came across a table full of brochures of places I had never seen or heard of. I don’t recall even hearing the word Tourism prior to that day. In my world, vacations meant travelling to Empangeni to visit my family and attend church conferences across Northern KZN.
My teacher Mrs Gordon easily convinced me to select Travel and Tourism as a subject. Now I had to convince my parents that Science and Mathematics were not an option for me. I had to work hard to prove to my family that Travel and Tourism was indeed a better choice for me than Engineering. I was the first in my family to have chosen this particular career path.
Come 2003, the top Tourism students were invited to the Tourism Indaba. I remember the day so well, my AHA! moment came. Transported to a world I had to be part of, I knew right at that moment that I was going to be part of this industry, I was in awe of the magnitude of possibilities and opportunities displayed on the presentation stalls that filled up the Durban ICC.
Deciding what to study post high school was an easy choice and I wanted a degree, I was going to become an expert in Travel and Tourism. My only choice was the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and I was going to be one of their top students. My key motivation was always my family. I had to prove to them that I had made the right decision.
Hard work, passion, focus and Christ opened doors for me within the University and post-graduation. I was given the opportunity to gain invaluable experience working for the KwaZulu-Natal Tourism Authority, a small tour operating company, and even lecturing. I don’t have a particular formula for how I have made it thus far, what has been key is my attitude, a yearning to learn from everyone I came across and passion for this industry.
14 years later, with 4 tourism related degrees, working for one of my dream organisations – South African Tourism, and a tourism enthusiast in the making, I am back at the Tourism Indaba. The feeling I felt walking through the Durban ICC flooded back, I am doing Tourism and I am part of this exciting industry. My goal has now changed, I want to help other young people navigate this industry that is still so misunderstood. My story is not unique but many of my fellow Tourism graduates still struggle to find stable jobs and end up in professions not aligned to their dreams and education.
Travel and Tourism is an exciting career option! Indaba has always been a reminder and motivation for why I choose Tourism. Every day I choose Tourism.