As CEO of South African Tourism, Sisa Ntshona is a man who has had to shoulder some fairly significant responsibility over the past months. I had a brief catch-up with him, extending some of my burning questions.
- You’ve been at the helm of a ship that’s had to sail uncharted waters over the past months. What has brought you joy in the midst of the madness?
COVID has been such a stark reminder of what is important in life. When things come to a standstill, what you thought was important is really not that important. This period has reminded us about love, family, relationships; that these things are the only certainty we have. It has also made me grateful to be in a position to have the basics.
- In a nutshell, what is your realistic hope for our beleaguered industry?
My hope for the industry is that we emerge from this pandemic with a stronger, more inclusive tourism sector that represents what this beautiful country of ours has to offer, taking nothing for granted.
- What’s one of your South African hidden gem destinations – the one you dreamed of returning to after lockdown?
The countryside, the Karoo. The open spaces, dry climate, long winding roads, exquisite cuisine of Karoo lamb and red wine.
- What’s a South African destination you’re yet to visit but is on your bucket list?
- You’ve heard countless stories of loss, but also stories of hope. Can you share one of those?
The agility of the sector to be part of the solution; turning hotels into the quarantine sites. A great example is the ranch hotel, which stepped up as one of the country’s very first quarantine sites. Another example is the imagination of the sector in pivoting with hotels like All-Suite Hotel becoming a laundromat.
- What’s the one question no one asks you, but you wish they would?
What I’d like to do when I retire…
A challenging journey lies ahead for our industry, and so I hope that retirement remains a distant thought for Sisa, as he’s certainly going to have his hands full for a long time. Although my curiosity is piqued and next time I’ll have to remember to ask about those retirement plans.
* EXPLORE LIFE’s industry-supportive October edition has been proudly endorsed by South African Tourism.