Andile Mlawu

My name is Andile Mlawu. I was born in rural town of Colesberg in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. I have recently joined the Provincial department of Tourism, Environment and Conservation as a Tourism Officer. The vision of the department is to promote the sustainable development and management of tourism, environment and conservation.

The tourism industry in our province is fast becoming one of the major contributors to the provincial economy. An analysis of the economic situation and indicators reflects major opportunities for potential growth in the provincial tourism sector.

My responsibilities within the department are to give guidance through policy formulation, putting plans in place for sustainable development and transformation of the industry so as to enable previously disadvantaged individuals and communities to participate in the sector. I have just completed a very successful provincial road show to high schools in order to promote participation in a national tourism competition.

I was hugely influenced by my curiosity about the world around me, and when the department of education introduced tourism as a subject at my high school I excitedly took up the subject in grade 10. It was one of my favourite subjects in high school. As someone who had not travelled much the tourism class gave me an opportunity to experience the world and exotic destination through the knowledge that was imparted by the educator in class.

Whilst in grade twelve (1998) we participated in the National Business Initiative (NBI) Tourism Schools Competition, and compiled a project called the Donkey Express which was based on the concept of tourism as an economic contributor to our community. We came first in our province and eventually came second in the national level of the competition. As part of our prize, we spent a week in one of our country’s most popular tourist destinations, Cape Town where we stayed in four and five star hotels and visited almost all the tourist attractions. The highlight for me was the boat trip to Robben Island where our former president, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. I actually stood in the cell where he was kept.

This was motivation enough for me to further my studies in the tourism field after completing grade twelve. I then completed a national diploma in tourism management at the Port Elizabeth Technikon, where I also did Galileo. As a prerequisite to completing the national diploma I was requested to do in-service training with an institution that is tourism-related. I enlisted with the national carrier (South African Airways) for six months. I worked as a customer service agent: it wass my first practical and hands-on experience of the tourism industry.

On completion of my diploma I joined the Department of Sport as a regional coordinator for their Mass Participation programme. Later I joined the Northern Cape Provincial Department of Tourism Environment and Conservation and I am enjoying every minute of my job.