22 May 2012

Escape to the Cape’s Shaheed Ebrahim named 2012 ETEYA winner

Shaheed Ebrahim, founder and owner of Cape Town-based tour operating company, Escape to the Cape, is the winner of the 2012 Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Winning smile - Shaheed Ebrahim, 2012 Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner Winning smile: Shaheed Ebrahim, 2012 Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner

I didn’t expect it. I thought I would do well, but I didn’t expect to get the big one. I think all the hard work has paid off. - Shaheed Ebrahim, owner, Escape to the Cape

'I want to cry.' These were the first words uttered by Shaheed Ebrahim, when asked how he was feeling moments after being named the winner of the 2012 Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award (ETEYA).

‘I didn’t expect it. I thought I would do well, but I didn’t expect to get the big one. I think all the hard work has paid off,’ he said.

Ebrahim and the 3 runners-up were announced at the opening ceremony of INDABA 2012. INDABA is currently on at the International Convention Centre Durban, running until 15 May 2012.

ETEYA recognises outstanding new-entrant, black-owned SMMEs in the tourism industry.

Aside from a lifelong passion for showing visiting family and friends around his beloved Cape Town, Ebrahim - a former private banker - set up Escape to the Cape with no formal experience in the tourism industry.

While taking a tour guiding course, more as a hobby than a career move, he quickly identified a gap in the market - a tour company to meet the needs of today’s discerning and tech-savvy traveller.

Escape to the Cape offers a variety of tours around Cape Town and the Western Cape. These include city, adventure and extreme tours; tours of the Garden Route; and tours specifically designed for young families.

It quickly made a name for itself - thanks in no small part to its technology offering. Ebrahim provides his customers with free Wi-Fi on board the tour bus as well as roving iPad, cellphone and laptop charging facilities.

He also offers free telephone calls to US clients, who make up a large percentage of the company’s clientele.

Ebrahim’s prize includes a R100 000 cash injection into his business and a 12-month mentorship programme, facilitated by the Tourism Enterprise Partnership.

The ETEYA 2012 runners up are Dees Govender of Sanchia Luxury Guesthouse in KwaZulu-Natal (1st runner-up), Salome Tshungu of The Orchards Executive Accommodation in Midrand (2nd runner-up), and Nkele Motsoaledi of South African Reatswelela Travel Centre in Polokwane (3rd runner-up).

They received R75 000, R50 000 and R25 000, respectively, plus access to the TEP mentorship programme.

The awards reflect the sentiments expressed by Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism, in his INDABA 2012 opening address. He emphasised the need to keep the industry’s most important asset - its people - top of mind.

‘We must ensure that all our people share in the benefits of our new growth,’ he commented.