Much attention has been paid to the role of tourism in local community development, and the ability of tourism to empower individuals within these communities

According to Christo Botes of the Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year®, entrepreneurs play an important part in driving development within their communities due to the role they play in job and wealth creation.

He says that this is especially true for the entrepreneurs operating within the tourism industry because they tend to operate within the more remote areas of South Africa.   

An example of an entrepreneur that plays a direct role in community development is Adri Kruger, owner of Tzaneen Country Lodge and 2014 overall competition winner of the Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year®.

Located in the north eastern lowveld of the Limpopo Province, Tzaneen Country Lodge was a dilapidated old farmstead before Kruger developed it into a fully serviced 67 bedroom hotel and conference venue that today employs a total of 215 staff members.

Kruger agrees that community development is key to creating a sustainable and prosperous tourism industry. “The wonderful aspect of tourism is that it often allows rural areas, and staff employed by attractions in these areas, to share in the benefits of tourism development.

“Developing the communities around these tourist attractions also provides an alternative to urbanisation as it allows individuals to continue with a rural way of life without losing potential income,” he adds.

A firm believer that tourism provides hope in communities and is often a lifeline for many, Kruger has committed herself to upskilling staff and supporting community members through training and product development, as well as various employment equity programmes.

“An example of this is an employee, Mr Isaac Selowa, who previously was a roadside hawker, and is today a successful Senior Restaurant Manager at the hotel’s a la carte restaurant, Feathers,” says Kruger.

She adds that apart from sourcing her staff from the surrounding areas, she also strives to purchase supplies from local, small businesses where possible.

“I think it is important for entrepreneurs operating in the tourism sector to support the development of their fellow tradesmen as this results in the majority of the revenue generated in the area remaining in the community, and further enabling the business community to give back to its members,”