Accommodation News for August 2008 in Kwazulu Natal

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Tourism industry 'largely untapped'

From: The Mercury 13 August 2008

The burgeoning South African tourism industry requires up to 80 000 workers in the next two years ahead of hosting the Fifa World Cup in 2010.

This is according to a skills audit on the industry conducted by the environmental affairs and tourism department.

The audit found that despite the skills shortage in the country, workshops conducted in 2010 host cities had found that one of the key challenges within the sector was the lack of awareness of the benefits in pursuing a career in the sector.

In light of this, tourism deputy minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi announced in Durban on Tuesday that her department would hold the first National Tourism Careers Expo, which was set to be hosted in the city in October.

The event - to be hosted in partnership with the KZN arts, culture and tourism department, the tourism, hospitality, sport and education training authority - is aimed at encouraging unemployed young people to pursue careers in the potentially lucrative industry.

"Even though the tourism sector is one of the largest and most diverse industries in the world, it remains a largely untapped sector when it comes to attracting young individuals to choose it as a career," Mabudafhasi said.

"A key focus of the National Tourism Careers Expo is to showcase, to young people, the vast potential, great opportunities and rewarding jobs within the tourism sector."

She said the expo would also present an opportunity for employers to meet their potential future employees. Tourism teachers would be able to interact with leaders of the industry. Opportunities would also be presented to industry players, especially those that wished to allocate bursaries to students.

Initiatives undertaken by the department to address skills development within the tourism industry would also be unveiled during the expo.

"Tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries globally, and the second-largest sector in the world in terms of turnover. It is an industry that currently offers a lot of opportunities to individuals who not only have a passion for working closely with people but are keen to be part of an industry that is a key contributor to the South African economy," she said.

According to the training authority, tourism is also the fastest-growing industry in South Africa, contributing no less than 10 percent to the gross domestic product and offering more than 400 occupations in five main sectors, namely accommodation, food and beverage services, recreation and entertainment, transport and travel services.

"Many people are unaware of the career opportunities within tourism as they believe that it is not viable to become a professional in the industry," said Sindiswa Nhlumayo, the department's deputy director-general.

"We want to change this, and other misconceptions about tourism as a viable career, and encourage young people to learn more about the industry and how they can find a place for themselves."

The inaugural National Tourism Careers Expo, which is set to become an annual event, will take place at the Durban Exhibition Centre from October 14-16.

 What's missing on the menu?

From: The Daily News 04 August 2008

Financially strained restaurateurs are finding themselves in a catch-22 situation resulting from a tough economic environment and more are now opting to sell.

Experts in the hospitality sector have cited high food prices, the minimum wage legislation and crime as reasons for restaurants going out of business faster than ever before.

An increase in sales of restaurants has also been confirmed by auctioneers.

Lynn Allan, spokesperson for the KwaZulu-Natal branch of the Restaurants Association of South Africa, said local restaurants were facing "a very difficult period".

"This has, unfortunately, resulted in some restaurants compromising on the quality of their food and service to cut costs. Ultimately, this results in the restaurant closing doors," she said.

The labour department announced last year a prescribed minimum wage for workers in the hospitality sector, starting from R1 480 for establishments with fewer than 10 workers.

"This has had a huge impact on restaurateurs as they have a choice of absorbing this added expense, which directly affects their bottom line, or passing the cost on to their customers who are already watching prices," Allan said.

In an effort to lure customers, restaurants are now forced to offer "freebies", but this has had a negative impact on profits.

"Restaurants are offering specials which they would not normally offer. For example, 'two-for-the-price-of-one' specials, cut-price meals on quieter nights, free starters or desserts with mains, free kids' meals with adults' mains and 'early bird' specials," she said.

Andre Schubert, who owns two restaurants and serves on the executive committee of the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, explained there was a knock-on effect created as a result of the wage legislation and food prices.

"A minimum wage for waiters was not included in my business formula.

"Inevitably, these increases will have to be factored into our pricing," he said.

This comes at a time when people are "definitely eating out less" because of the high cost of food and other expenses, Schubert said.

"It also means that when they do go out, they are more careful about what they order," he said.

Schubert added that the present economic climate translated into a "survival-of-the-fittest" situation for owners of food and beverage outlets.

As a result of the pressure in the sector, auctioneers have subsequently reported a boost in the sales of food-related businesses.

Rainer Stenzhorn, sales manager for the Durban branch of auctioneers Alliance Group, said there had been a marginal increase in the sales of restaurants and their assets but he believed there was worse to come.

"The expectation for the upcoming 12-month cycle is an increase of 80-100 percent of sales in this sector as a result of the economic climate," Stenzhorn said.

The company has reported a 40 percent increase in the sale of of food and beverage outlet, from eight in 2007 to 11 in 2008.

Dales Bros auctioneers have sold four restaurants in KZN alone, according to general manager Pierre Dabbadie.

"There has been a significant increase in calls from people wanting to sell their food outlets. Just on Sunday, I saw a place in Pietermaritzburg that is going to be put up for sale," he said.

Dabbadie said that the company had sold only one restaurant in 2007, but even that was not a "forced sale like the ones we are seeing now".

The Cape Argus reported that Western Cape Auctioneers, specialists in auctioning catering equipment, sold the equipment of about 70 food and beverage outlets since the start of the year.

In 2007, the firm sold the equipment of 96 food and beverage outlets, compared with 72 in 2006.

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