Getting ready for 2010

2009 SAYTC conference

The third annual SAYTC Youth and Adventure Travel Conference, which was held in St Lucia from the 14 to 16 June 2009, was a huge success with everyone impressed by the location, the speakers, the organisation and the parties. Everything was within walking distance of accommodation.

The welcoming reception was sponsored by Tourism Kwazulu-Natal with a fantastic dinner at Fur Elise Restaurant. We were welcomed by the local Zulu Dancers (and some delegates who were brave or flexible enough to join them) and were given free beer from Zulu Blonde in Eshowe. Great KZN artists Shomon Daniel, Shannon Hope & Syd Kitchen provided some super live entertainment before DJ Garth took over, entertaining us late into the night.

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The conference day began with an inspiring talk and session by motivational speaker Anton van der Post, Dr Kamilla Swart (Fifa World Cup 2010), Ken Gillings (Battlefield Heritage), and Andrew Zaloumis ( iSimangaliso Wetland Park). A wide range of topics were discussed over the two days, including the current economy (Rejane Woodroffe), Electronic Marketing (Jacques Passier), Energy Management (Tim Whitaker) and Language Travel (Howard Johnson). These talks were interspersed with light-hearted banter from our master of ceremonies, Gavin Eyre our National Chairperson, who kept the show going.
Mmatsatsi Marobe(TBCSA) honoured us with her presence and addressed the delegates with a short, but most inspiring, message where she touched on the importance and future of our industry.

Thanks to Hostelworld, in particular the very vibrant Catarina Nilsson, we could really splash out for the gala evening that was held at Braza. This venue was transformed into a fun theme of FIFA 2010 by Marlene (SAYTC), with everything from flags on the walls to vuvuzelas and soccer balls on the tables. We were well entertained by Muthu, the KZN comedian, and his band, who had us all in stitches with his comments and dance lessons! He even had us do the Macarena! We were spoiled with the food; with spreads from oysters for starters, seafood or sushi platters or chicken or beef espetadas. Many of the young (at heart) moved to BiB’s backpackers for some more free beer and to stand a chance to bid for Marius (Tube ‘n Axe) or Tamanda (Black Mamba). Althea (Eurocentres) managed the crowd and succeeded in raising around R900 that was donated to the local orphanage (www.siz-ingane.co.za) that is supported by BiBs.

After the very late night, (most) delegates made it to the boat trip on the estuary to have breakfast and watch the abundance of hippos and crocs in the water.

Delegates continued the day with more informative speakers and ended with the AGM.

The conference ended with another beautiful evening at the stunning outside restaurant, Fur Elise. This evening was sponsored by Intrepid Bundu Safaris which was represented by Sean, Merle and Chevaun, and we sommer celebrated their 15th Birthday at the same time. Everyone was kitted out in an Intrepid Bundu Safari T-shirt in exchange for entering barefoot. Two very generous prizes were pulled out of the hat for a weekend getaway to the Bundu Thornhill Safari Lodge with the winners being Lebo and Maria from Soweto Backpackers and Loren from Island Vibe. Philip from BiB’s cooked us a delicious variety of potjies!

And just when we thought it was over, there was a very exciting game drive as a post-conference option. A whopping 60 delegates made use of the opportunity to watch some rhinos, buffalo, zebras, monkeys and more on their way to Cape Vidal for some swimming, snorkelling, fishing, beach strolling, yummy hotdogs and (more) beer.

All in all, SAYTC proved to everyone that our conferences remain incredibly informative on cutting edge issues while at the same time being more fun than is healthy! At the same time SAYTC and its members spent an estimated R500,000 in St Lucia (KZN)

Thanks

An event of this magnitude doesn’t happen without a lot of help from a lot of people. There are many people to thank:

Sponsors

In particular we would like to thank our main sponsors: Tourism Kwazulu-Natal(TKZN) & Hostelworld It was really great to have TKZN as one of our main sponsors as they have been of really good assistance to our industry for many years. Hostelworld, for the second year now, has been a wonderful partner. Without their significant financial injection the conference could never have succeeded the way it did.

Intrepid Bundu gave us a super donation towards the last night’s potjie and really fantastic last night’s party.

Thanks to the Baz Bus, Acacia for providing a free bus to help get our delegates there, as well as Around About Cars for the discount offered.

The variety of teas from Cape Agulhas Backpackers, Penthouse on Long, Eurocentres and the Garden Route chapter.

Richard Chennells for the great Zulublonde beer on the opening & final nights.

Advantage Tours and St.Lucia Safaris for the truly magnificent boat tour of ther Estuary. Heritage Tours & Safaris for the transport to the game reserve.

The iSimangaliso Wetlands Park for entrance to the park.
Chris from BiBs for the tours, accommodation, Bloody Mary’s, beers, hotdogs and all the many other things he did with such great enthusiasm.

Veyane Cultural village for the Zulu Dancers.

Everyone in St.Lucia who welcomed all our delegates so warmly.

Speakers

Thanks to Anton van der Post, Dr Kamilla Swart, Ken Gillings, Dr Andrew Zaloumis, Rejane Woodroffe, Jacques Passier, Tim Whitaker and Howard Johnson for their challenging and stimulating presentations. Anton’s really engaging presentation distinguished this conference in that it was laced with great and constant humour, and touched the basic theme of business and life. He once again reminded us that our positive attitude is what ultimately makes us succeed.

Entertainment

Comedian Muthu & Band who took us completely off our feet into some great space at the Gala Dinner, Shomon Daniel, Shannon Hope and Syd Kitchen who gave us some of KZN’s best talent on our first evening and Dave Stark who kept us rocking at the Bundu Party on Friday night. Also the sound technicians who did all the auditorium sound & electronics as well as providing great sound at our evening parties.

Organisers

A special thanks to Graham, Richard and Daryn from Zululand Backpackers. Deborah, Marlene and Gavin from SAYTC. Chris, Philip, Wesley and Belinda from BiB’s who quietly made things run smoothly, but without whose help the job would have been much harder. Rahel from the guide. Patrick from Tekweni Backpackers for the well-supported annual SAYTC Golf afternoon.
Leigh for organising a very cool Goodie Bag.
Brigette and her catering crew for the delicious meals & teas. Braza Restaurant for a truly memorable dinner. The staff were on the ball! Richard Chennells for lanyards and banners that greeted us from Mtubatuba to BiB’s.

Thanks for Jacques and Sadia from the Alternative Route for the great job they did on the conference programme. It was a really great logo for the conference. The profiles of the members, speakers, etc. made it a program to hold onto!

A special thank you to all those generous members who gave items so generously to be auctioned – and thanks too to those who bid so enthusiastically.

And lastly the biggest THANK YOU goes out to all the fantastic SAYTC members who came out from far corners of the country and participated in this unforgettable event.

Our wish

That you left the conference with twice the energy you arrived with and went back home to rejuvenate SAYTC & your businesses with many more friends to help you.

Conference statistics

  • Number of delegates: 130-from all over South Africa.
  • Amount raised at Auction: R35 000.
  • Total profit of the conference for SAYTC: estimated R60 000.
  • Sponsorship money received: R115 000.
  • Estimated spend in St Lucia: R250.000.
  • Estimated spend in KZN: R150 000+
  • Fantastic exposure for KZN.

Article by Angus Begg

Two things stood out for me at this year’s SAYTC and BSA Annual Youth Conference, neither of which – oddly enough – have anything to do with tourism. At least not in the direct sense.

They were the copious amounts of food and drink consumed, and Anton van der Post’s assault on a personal and collective state of mind that all too easily can slip into the negative – a mental slap around the head I suppose, which, I imagine from the silence that accompanied large parts of his presentation (when we weren’t laughing), wasn’t restricted to me alone.

And that’s the thing about tourism, it’s about far more than cocktails and bloody sunsets. Granted, food and drink are often an integral part of holiday, especially for youngsters looking to lose themselves in foreign (sometimes alcoholic) distraction. But, just as a heightened spiritual consciousness is part of the package when traveling through India – as Dave and Rejane will no doubt discover on their journey there over the next year – so issues like confidence, crime and treatment of staff are part of our somewhat unique landscape here at home.

If that all sounds a bit serious, a seriously lekker aspect for a first-timer to the conference was just how much everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Think about it. Given that that was before Anton told the audience to ‘get out’ of the industry if they weren’t enjoying their jobs, it says something really positive about the conference’s collective state of mind.

Whether the Eshowe brewmaster’s impressive impersonation of contemporary township jive at Braza, performer Mutu’s over-the-top and delightfully inappropriate, thoroughly sexist show, or that woman who flashed her butt (actually, she did it twice) on the St Lucia estuary… all the delegates seemed intent on having fun. Which is good.

Because (yes, you’re not meant to start sentences with Because…but my cellphone is also not meant to be on in the airplane locker above my head) it explains why you’re all doing what you do.

It’s not, or shouldn’t be, about chasing fortunes. If we take Anton’s words to heart – and there’s nothing wrong with common sense and home truths – the

main driver in our lives should be to do as well as we can, be good to others, spread the luurv and offer a brilliant experience to travelers who likely worked damn hard to come and spend time with all of you. It may sound awfully twee, but this was yet another reminder (we get them all the time, in every facet of life), that life is indeed about the journey, and not cruising the N2 in your X5.

However I’m going to hazard a guess that BSA and SAYTC types are least in need of such reminders. Just watching the relatively new (and established) parents settling their kids in front of the DVD that night at Braza, from Intrepid Bundu’s Sean and Merle to Jacqui from Malealea, Tim and Annie from Amapondo and the Coffee Shack’s Doting Dave and Belinda. I can’t think of many conferences that would not just accommodate, but appreciate children so much. And the fact that Gavin Eyre has furries for kids shouldn’t be held against him…I fully relate Gavin, until my own Fynn’s recent arrival my own furries were almost a full-time job.

Most encouraging, on a business note – and remember I write this in a time of global economic depression and job losses – was the gloriously brief address by Mmatsatsi Marobe, CEO of the Tourism Business Council (TBCSA). It was positive in that she brought with her recognition of the role played by BSA and SAYTC in the local tourism firmament, but also in her frank encouragement for the industry to put itself out there. Frankly speaking, SA Tourism could perhaps offer more recognition of this role, but the industry really needs to think out of the box, to use, once again, an already thoroughly over-traded cliché.

Sitting amongst you lot as a photographer, writer (www.africanstorybook.com) and TV producer, listening to speakers mentioning the importance of marketing and good photographs, I couldn’t help but be reminded that opportunities sometimes lie right before us. Just ask Di…., who bent my willing ear about a story she’d like me to do for Carte Blanche!

My final word? I’ve travelled extensively, South Africa, the continent and globally, from five star hotels and lodges to Aussie youth hostels – and more relevantly, a couple of our own backpacking establishments. We’ve got some impressive product, in often equally impressive surroundings. The rest is up to the product-owner, attention to detail being up there as amongst the most important elements. This is where I found the St Lucia visit instructive.

Although I would love to have stayed for the last night and the Cape Vidal drive (smelling that game-drive coffee!), I really enjoyed the two days I experienced, still convinced that this industry has sooo much to offer tourism in South Africa. And by the way, staff exchange visits will go a really long way to improving both knowledge and enthusiasm – it’s the cheapest motivation course you can think of.

Thanks for the hospitality and friendliness. And the booze. And food…

Warm regards
Angus

Delegate & speaker profiles: Click here to download the 2009 conference program.

2009 St. Lucia – Up your beat to stay in the game

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