LOCAL CAPE TOWN BUSINESSMAN WINS COVETED TOURISM AWARD
Local businessman, Shaheed Ebrahim walked away with the coveted title of the Western Cape winner of the Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year and is now in the running to become the national winner of this title. The provincial winners were announced at a gala dinner on the 26th of September, which was the eve of Tourism day which was celebrated on Tuesday 27 September. The finalist represents the cream of South Africa’s small and medium tourism business. Ebrahim is the founder and owner of Escape to the Cape, a destination management service that offers shuttling services, guided tours, accommodation arrangements and business services to the public. They provide luxury, convenient and state of the art technology services.
The concept for the business came from his extensive travels. He realised that there was a gap in the market, for tour operators who could cater for the needs of today’s discerning and technologically savvy traveller.
Shaheed Ebrahim entered the tourism sector with no experience or expertise in this sector whatsoever. After successfully completing his tour guiding course he quickly realised that being a qualified tour guide was not enough to secure business. Other tour guides had repeatedly told him not to bother with government and similar institutions who offered assistance, as it was perceived to be a waste of time. Many just advised him to seek employment. Fortunately having been in the corporate sector for many years, Shaheed realised that he should leverage whatever assistance he could get to grow his business and to learn. With this in mind he joined the Tourism Enterprise Partnership (TEP) and has never looked back.
“With the guidance and assistance of TEP I have managed to structure my business and focus on key areas,” says Ebrahim. He was incorporated into a TEP mentorship programme and his relationship with his mentor was the key to his survival in the early months. “The constant support, advice and encouragement offered by TEP and my mentor ensured that I did not throw in the towel,” says Ebrahim. TEP also partly sponsored his trip to the World Travel Market in London in November 2010 which afforded him an opportunity to secure business as well as gain insight into how the world’s most successful tour companies operate. Furthermore he attended several TEP training workshops including customer service, marketing, business planning and social media training.