Grow with tourism

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

The tourism industry is crucial to the economy and it makes up 6,8percent of the total gross domestic product of the country.

It contributes an impressive R103billion to the economy every year - R51billion from international visitors and R49billion from the domestic market.

Tourism has created a massive number of jobs and there is still a lot of room for growth.

One of the main beneficiaries of tourism, the hotel industry, is ever growing as more visitors, both local and international, visit different parts of the country for business or leisure purposes.

Richard Jones has become an expert on this industry during his time as the managing director of Queensgate Hotel Management in Cape Town.

"My role is to oversee the day-to-day operation of the hotel assets. I have been with the group as managing director since 2003," he said.

"We have 15 executives and throughout the operations we have 450 people. We have various responsibilities which include being involved in the business department, ensuring that the processes of due diligence take place as required as well as managing the business processes."

Jones said the hotel business is unique.

"The human traffic is critical. It is a labour-intensive industry. Our assets are the people. We can't cater for our clients without our staff to ensure our service and delivery. They are the face of our brand," he said.

To be successful you need to really be passionate about your job. "I was born into this industry as my family was involved in the hotel business. Being a hotelier is a way of life. It is a 24-hour industry and you have to be passionate about it to be able to commit your time and energy to it."

He says you must be able to interact with all types of people.

"Each area is different too, for example fine dining is more intimate and detailed while breakfast is a hustle and bustle environment. Everyone wants to eat and go. Therefore, the employees need to be very pleasant to the clients," said Jones.

"All we sell is an intangible asset so we have to maintain this experience all the time. You never stop learning irrespective of your position in the company. We also strive to provide our staff with further education.

He faces several difficulties in his work.

"Finding the right people for the right job is not easy," said Jones. "Also, our environment is affected by various external factors such as the recent xenophobic attacks."

To keep himself updated and well versed, he sources information from the media and industry associations such as the Federated Association of Hoteliers (FedhaSA) where he spends at least an hour reading, daily.

"Information is power. Without reading you are powerless as a leader in your company," said Jones.