Tourism has played a major role in growing the economy of Cape Town; positioning it as a premier holiday destination to ensure international and domestic visitors throughout the year. This in turn has given rise to a diverse businesses landscape of tourism-related businesses. It has also opened up entrepreneurial opportunities and skills development, and has made its mark on the quality of life in Cape Town by encouraging lifestyle development, investment and cross-sector efforts to create a safe and liveable city.
The economic value of tourism in Cape Town is estimated to be over R12 billion a year, and generates close to 35,000 permanent jobs as a result (Economic Value of Tourism, City of Cape Town/Grant Thornton, August 2013).
Women are drawn into tourism in large numbers; from those that start a small B&B or tourism enterprise to bring in a small income, to those that influence the vision and direction of tourism in the region, below are 15 remarkable women impacting tourism in Cape Town:
1. Nisreen Bulbulia; Owner of Citi Hopper
Previously the Marketing Manager of Centurion Tours, Nisreen Bulbulia started Citi Hopper in December 2010; winning the 2013 ETEYA (Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award), which recognises excellence in black-owned small businesses. The passionately run transport system offers shuttles and tours; including shark cage diving excursions, peninsula trips and city safaris.
2. Mariette du Toit-Helmbold: Owner of Destinate
Mariette was the CEO of Cape Town Tourism from 2004-2013 and has been widely recognised for her bold and innovative approach to destination marketing. Under her leadership, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation recognised Cape Town Tourism for its “world best-practice tourism organisational model and innovation initiatives in destination marketing.” Mariette has since opened her own tourism and destination marketing company, Destinate, and is working with several major tourism brands around social media, PR and pioneering marketing strategies.
3. Lee Harris and Toni Shina: Owners of The Backpack
In addition to being Fair Trade accredited, Toni and Lee take responsible tourism very seriously, contributing to a township animal clinic and a knitting project for AIDS orphans, as well as supporting the Great Commission United (GCU), a Cape Flats-based community project that aims to keep kids off the streets.
All of this and a fantastic location beneath the slopes of Table Mountain.
4. Jenny Housdon, Owner of Nomvuyo Tours
Jenny Housdon has been involved in tourism since 1993. She is a passionate individual making a real difference with her interactive township tours in Khayelitsha, taking visitors to experience daily life in the community or stay in a ‘township’ B&B.
5. Philippa Jephson, Founder of Run Cape Town
The global passion for running has been harnessed to excellent effect by Philippa Jephson. This former speech and language therapist is an accredited Western Cape Tourist Guide who offers running tours through some of Cape Town’s most scenic and historical areas. It’s a great way to soak up the scene and meet some new people too.
6. Sabine Lehmann: CEO of Table Mountain Aerial Cableway
Sabine heads up one of the biggest attractions in Cape Town – The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway – which welcomed its 23rd-millionth visitor in December 2013 and takes visitors to the top of this iconic landmark; one of the world’s New 7 Wonders of Nature. Sabine began her career at the Cableway Company in 1998 as Marketing Manager, thereafter advancing to General Manager, and in 2007 took the post of Managing Director. In addition to being MD, Sabine has achieved an MBA degree and sits on the Board of Cape Town Tourism and Groot Constantia. Recently, Sabine was the driving force behind the first ever Attractions Management in Southern Africa 2014 conference held in Cape Town; which focused on the role and development of attractions.
7. Thope Lekau, Founder of Kopanong B&B
Thope Lekau established Kopanong B&B in Khayelitsha in 1999, after completing a fellowship studying small scale entrepreneurship at the University of Pittsburgh. Thope is now a bright light in tourism and her community. She is a registered tour guide, community economic development worker and mentor to local women; teaching them about guesthouse and small business management and catering; Lekau is a local legend.
8. Jessy Lipperts; Owner of Extraordinary Travel
In 2003, Jessy moved from the Netherlands to South Africa for a five month project and never looked back. In 2004, Lipperts started her own travel company (Extraordinary Travel) offering tailor made tours for foreign visitors. In addition, she is an associate with a global venue finding service (www.helmsbriscoe.com), a freelance trainer for emerging entrepreneurs in tourism, an ambassador for InterNations (www.internations.org), and shares her love of Cape Town and travel with the world via Twitter.
9. Liz McGrath: Owner of The Collection Group of Hotels
Liz McGrath is the proprietor of The Collection, a group of three luxury 5-star Relais & Chateaux hotels in the Cape Province. Inspired to become a hotelier after Relais & Châteaux hotels became the focus of Liz and her husband’s annual holidays abroad, McGrath is the only woman in the world to own three Relais & Chateaux hotels. She has also just gone into a five year partnership with the Lord Milner Hotel in Matjiesfontein.
10. Zainie Misbach; Founder of Bo-Kaap Cooking tour
Zainie Misbach is a Bo-Kaap resident with a passion for preserving Cape Malay culture. She has been showcasing Cape Malay cuisine for over thirty years, and opened the very first Cape Malay restaurant in South Africa; Biesmiellah Restaurant, along with the well-known Noon Gun Restaurant, though the latter has subsequently closed.
11. Nombulelo Mkefa; Director: Tourism at the City of Cape Town
Nombulelo Mkefa leads the City of Cape Town’s mandate for managing and sustaining tourism in the city and has a vision to make Cape Town a globally recognised Responsible Tourism Destination. Mkefa won an Impumelelo Award (Silver) for her work on Community Based Tourism Development in 2004, and is responsible for encouraging the adoption of the Tourism Development Framework by the City of Cape Town that same year. In addition, she serves on the boards of Cape Town Tourism and the District Six Museum.
12. Laura Ndukwana; Laura’s Township Tours
Laura was born and bred in the Guguletu Township, and has been involved in tourism for fourteen years. In addition to her work bringing visitors from around the world into the community she loves, she also runs several community building projects.
13. Sheryl Ozinsky; Manager of Oranjezicht City Farm
Sheryl Ozinsky is currently the manager of one of the most successful World Design Capital 2014 projects on the calendar; the Oranjezicht City Farm. Ozinsky has been CEO of a number of tourism organisations, including Cape Town Tourism, as well as being a board member for Iziko Museums, Artscape and the Cape Town Partnership. Sheryl is passionate about sustainability and has been involved in several projects in this regard, including the successful driving of this year’s WWF Earth Hour City Challenge where Cape Town was awarded the title of Global Earth Hour Capital 2014.
14. Malmsey Rangaka; Owner of M’hudi Wine Farm
Prior to founding M’hudi wines, Rangaka worked as a clinical psychologist in the North West Province. M’hudi was founded in 1999 by Malmsey and her husband, and is said to be the first black-owned wine tourism farm in South Africa.
15. Faldela Tolker; Owner of Cape Malay Cooking Safaris
Faldela Tolker owns Cooking with Love, a company that has run Cape Malay Cooking Safaris from the Bo-Kaap for nine years. In addition to showcasing the Cape Malay culture through food via tours and on numerous television shows, Faldela does cooking demonstrations with many charities and is in the process of writing her own Cape Malay cook book.
Says Cape Town Tourism CEO, Enver Duminy; “What would the Mother City be without its women? Our city, and our industry, is overflowing with extraordinary women. From the everyday heroes bringing up their children to be compassionate community members to those who are trailblazing and leading us all, we salute women and the central role they play in tourism.”
- All photographs supplied by Cape Town Tourism