UKZN’s Culture Cluster in the School of Social Sciences within the College of Humanities recently hosted a Tourism Symposium titled: Rethinking Tourism for the benefit of the Culture and Heritage students and graduates, consisting of four sessions, with delegates presenting on different aspects of tourism.
UKZN staff involved in the symposium were Dr Bhekani Nzimande, Dr Mabuyi Gumede, Dr Balungile Zondi, Ms Edista Ngubane, Dr Gabisile Mkhize as well as former students, Ms Nokwethemba Vilakazi and Mr Ayanda Shezi.
Government organisations were also present such as the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA); KZN Amafa research and institution; Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA); South African Museums Association (SAMA), and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sport, Arts, and Culture (KZN-DSAC). Other attendees were academic Dr Bandile Mkhize; Professor Thandi Nzama (University of Zululand) and Chairperson of the Board for Aloe Lifestyle Hotel and Conference Centre Mr Sicelo Xulu.
The symposium celebrated Tourism Month and allowed students to tap into culture, heritage, and museum sectors while accessing useful information to benefit their career paths. ‘Due to lockdown restrictions accompanied by job losses, the tourism sector has been the most affected globally by the COVID-19 pandemic. This has contributed to the country’s high unemployment rate; however, this opportunity will assist our final-year students who are seeking employment,’ explained Gumede.
Government representatives shared information about their respective roles in the tourism sector, including coordination, planning, policy development, service excellence, and capacity building.
Xulu shared his experience in entrepreneurship such as the basics when starting a business as well as the necessary qualities to execute a business plan, offering insight into his business ventures, and encouraging students to start their own businesses. ‘It’s tough out there. It’s important to understand the value chain which could be as simple as providing a company such as a Bed and Breakfast with lemons,’ he added.
Shezi spoke about his experience as an unemployed graduate and his business, A&B Poultry which is currently supplying three Spar retail stores across the province with eggs as well as his prestigious award, for the Lion’s Den Business competition for entrepreneurial excellence in his business.
Vilakazi talked about turning her beadwork talent into a successful business called Indlovukazi Beads, where she offers lessons both online and in person and sells a variety of beaded African accessories.
Mkhize focused on the role of government in ensuring there are policies and strategies that can be implemented for tourism, which he considers relevant. He pointed out ‘that there hasn’t been much change in the dynamics and the basics of tourism remain the same with the solution of government providing the right leadership.’
Ngubane shared the College Student Academic Services role to students, and how information is channeled through the University. She urged students to note the communiques sent out by the University as there are often opportunities for students. ‘Familiarize yourselves with visiting our offices which are now open full-time. We also provide services such as counseling and psychotherapy; academic support and career planning; graduate recruitment and part-time work; psychosocial workshops; support groups and forums,’ added Ngubane.