Kokstad business woman wants to use tourism to fight poverty

WHEN Siphokazi Thiam started selling sweets at school many years ago she never imagined that she would one day own three bed and breakfast establishments.

Speaking to the Fever about her role in tourism as a woman, Thiam said she has plans for Tourism Month this September.

“Tomorrow, I will be hosting people from different cultures to celebrate tourism and Heritage Month in one of my BnBs.

“Traditional food from different cultures will be served,” she said.

Speaking about Women’s Month, she said women are being recognised only in August, but they need to be capacitated throughout the year.

Thiam started her business on a small scale in 2009 by converting her three-bedroom house into a BnB. She said people thought that she had gone mad.

She also said Kokstad has many tourism and heritage sites that need to be shared with the world for economic growth and job creation.

“I am promoting tourism in the small towns of Kokstad, Mount Ayliff, Mount Frere and Umzimkhulu through partnership with small businesses and the youth. There are many interesting places that need to be promoted for tourists to invest money in.”

She said people from other countries get inspired when they see the beauty of southern KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

She also said people must not critise their cultures and traditional values because of changing times, that they should rather embrace them.

“Tourists often use the N2 route when traveling between Durban and Cape Town and they need to be welcomed. Kokstad town can draw more tourists because it is located along the N2.”

Thiam has attended a number of tourism exhibitions in countries like Spain and Netherlands where she has discovered a lot about tourism.

“At an exhibition in the Netherlands in November of 2017, people were inspired with my cultural attire and that made them want to visit South Africa. I established lots of partnerships with business people who were willing to invest in South Africa,” she said.

In May Thiam travelled with two tourism pupils from Shayamoya Secondary in Kokstad to learn more about tourism at a Tourism Indaba held in Johannesburg.

She also promoted tourism in Shayamoya Secondary and Carl Malcomess High School pupils this year.

During gatherings she promotes tourism because she knows there is wealth in tourism.

“Poverty could drop off if people could start practicing tourism.”

In March, Thiam won an award for Best Woman in Business in KwaZulu-Natal when the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs hosted the Umyataza Awards.

In November last year, Thiam also won the National Tourism Award at the South African Small Business Awards 2017 held by National Small Business Chamber.

To end off, a positive Thiam said that love, loyalty and hard work will assist with her vision of owning a hotel and hospitality training centre in the future.