How this GM of one of SA's most popular tourist spots has learned from every crisis she has faced

The value of the tourism industry is often overlooked. 

While hundreds of thousands of tourists travelling across the incredible urban and wild spaces of South Africa - the industry supports a fair amount of indirect employment, as much as 1.53 million jobs are supported by tourism currently, according to Gillian Saunders, an Independent Tourism and Hospitality Adviser - and "around 800 000, through the multiplier effect,” she says. 

Saunders detailed the potential of the industry in a recent column featured on Tourism Update saying, “Tourism is an amazing industry. It is one in which you can still enter unskilled at the bottom, and make it to the top. There are many stories of cleaners, rangers, bar staff, and the like making it to lodge owner, hotel general manager, restaurant owner etc.  Motivated people can make it to the top with no formal qualifications,” says Saunders.

One such woman is Celeste Bell, General Manager of Cape Point Nature. 

Celeste believes women have the capacity to add valuable contribution to the tourism industry and every mistake or crisis helps you become better. 

1. How have you personally grown in your career?

From the time I started as a general worker I have gained the necessary skills and knowledge to make informative decisions with confidence. Being allowed to make these decisions, with consequences, greatly improved my confidence and self-awareness. 

2. What needs to be done to empower women in business? And in the tourism industry, specifically?

Women have the capacity to add valuable contribution to any industry, and it is imperative that we are allowed the opportunity to show our worth. 

3. What has empowered you in your career journey? 

Having a mentor that understands and supports you through difficult times and situations, but also allows you to learn from your mistakes with guidance is extremely important.

Attending tourism workshops has developed a skill set of flexibility and learning new things through people in the industry. The tourism industry is very competitive which is innovative and always adjusting to the visitor’s needs. I learnt to deal with crisis that visitors might face and guiding the outcomes to be positive.

Having the will and determination to succeed even when things were really challenging. 

4. How has being the general manager of Cape Point empowered you personally?  

It empowered me by allowing personal growth, career growth, networking experience and expanding my personal knowledge in tourism and business.

5. What tips would you give other women looking to start a career in the tourism industry?

Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom, but never allow others to hold you down. Use every situation as valuable experience towards your next promotion. Broaden your horizons by adding new experiences, i.e. learn a new language, study customs and traditions, stay up to date with tourism trends.

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