8 December 2011

The ‘personal touch’ key to Tzaneen’s tourism Cinderella story

From 28 rooms and a handful of jobs, NMN Grand now employs 134 people, manages conferences of up to 600 delegates and has big plans for further growth

Nyeleti Mushwana Nyeleti Mushwana, grand entrepreneur

The success of Nyeleti’s business is testament to her hard work, vision and determination to play a meaningful role in the industry and to create jobs for people in her community. Building a business in tourism from scratch is not easy and we congratulate Nyeleti, whose people-centred approach epitomises just what the South African tourism industry is really about. It is people like her and many others who ensure South Africa remains a destination tourists will not only remember, but will never forget. - Roshene Singh, Chief Marketing Officer, South African Tourism

SOUTH AFRICA is blessed with the most spectacular natural landscapes and scenery, but it’s the warmth of the country’s people that provide travellers with the authentic and unique experiences they will never forget.

That hospitality, personal touch...and care...is what guests of Nyeleti Mushwana’s NMN Grand Hotel in Tzaneen in the Limpopo province can expect when they pay her a visit.

The NMN Grand has grown from a modest business, first opening its doors as the Karibu Resort nine years ago as a small hotel and conference centre with 28 rooms and conferencing facilities for only a handful of guests. Now, the new, improved and expanded lodge and hotel - which was proudly re-launched today - accommodates up to 280 people in 140 comfortable rooms; has conference facilities for 600 delegates and has just applied for a deluxe four-star grading from the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa. Impressively, the hotel employs 134 people, 78 of them in full-time jobs and its dynamic owner, Nyeleti, is the driving force of this tourism Cinderella story.

A former winner in 2004 of South African Tourism’s Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award (ETETYA), Nyeleti understands the value of good service and the importance of catering for the every needs of her customers.

Nyeleti puts her success down to hard work, careful planning and budgeting in tough economic times, to get where she and her business are now.

“I love being an entrepreneur in tourism. This, first of all, is a people business. It’s a business where people must always come first and where the personal touch matters to such an extent that it can mean the difference between success and failure. And for me, success is the only option. It has taken service excellence and a determination to put guests first, as they are the reason for our success. We need to take care of them, and exceed their expectations so that they keep coming back to us, and so that they recommend us to others,” says Nyeleti.

Her business has for now focussed almost exclusively on the domestic tourism market, which is pivotal in creating and sustaining jobs in the tourism industry. “I have wanted to be careful and strategic in my ambitions. It was important for me to crack the domestic market first, before trying to attract international guests. But now that we have a bigger facility, we are ready for the global market. It’s going to be exciting, and I look forward to the challenge and to welcoming international conferences and guests,” she says.

Winning ETEYA was the beginning of great things for the business, she says, as part of the ETEYA programme included ‘very valuable’ business skills training, ‘priceless’ networking opportunities, and ‘wonderful’ media exposure that pushed demand for Karibu’s services and grew clientele to enable her to expand the business and create the jobs that she offers today.

Expanding Karibu became the natural and logical next step. And once the improved facility began taking shape, she decided to rename it the NMN Grand Hotel and relaunch the business.

This, however, is not the end of growth plans for the NMN Grand - or for Nyeleti. She has recently completed the erection of a game fence around the property and has an application pending for the purchase of a number of giraffe, impala and wildebeest to give guests a “feeling of real, authentic Africa”.

And Nyeleti has her development sights set on a second property she owns in Tzaneen – an area Government has identified as a potential future tourist hub - where she plans to build another hotel that will accommodate a further 140 guests. Some of the attractions in the area are the abundant game farms and world-famous Kruger National Park, the popular Modjadji’s Kloof and the Debegeni Waterfalls.

“At the moment,” she explains, “we accommodate 600 conference delegates, but only have rooms enough for 280 overnight guests. So we bus people in and out to other hotels in Tzaneen. It makes sense for us to accommodate all our conference delegates ourselves, and build our business in this way too. My plan is to complete the second hotel in the next year or two.”

South African Tourism’s Chief Marketing Officer, Roshene Singh, was on hand with Limpopo Tourism officials at the NMN Grand’s opening to congratulate Nyeleti on her inspirational success.

“The success of Nyeleti’s business is testament to her hard work, vision and determination to play a meaningful role in the industry and to create jobs for people in her community. Building a business in tourism from scratch is not easy and we congratulate Nyeleti, whose people-centred approach epitomises just what the South African tourism industry is really about. It is people like her and many others who ensure South Africa remains a destination tourists will not only remember, but will never forget,” says Singh.

Ends

Issued by South African Tourism.

For further information contact:

Jermaine Craig at South African Tourism

Tel: +27 11 895 3000

jermaine@southafrica.net

Allison MacDonald at Ireland Davenport Public Relations

Tel: +27 82 771 2541

allison.macdonald@ireland-davenport.co.za

Website www.southafrica.net

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South African Tourism is the national tourism agency responsible for the marketing of South Africa as a preferred tourist destination. It is headed up by acting Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer Mr Timothy Scholtz and Chief Marketing Officer, Ms Roshene Singh.