This Women’s Day, Knysna Tourism is focussing on some of the local women who have established or are involved in successful tourism businesses in the greater Knysna area.
Says Elmay Bouwer, Chairperson of Knysna & Partners: “I particularly respect women who empower other women. I really enjoy seeing women encouraging, supporting and educating their peers. We need more of that.
“It is important to me that women need to change their way of thinking from ‘I’m not ready to do that’, to ‘I want to do that and I will learn by doing it.’
“Thank you to all the women in Knysna who have a vision to empower women to do more, see more and be more.
“A huge round of applause to all the women playing a role in #KnysnaRises. I salute you. Have a blessed Women’s Day.”
Part one of our Women’s Month series, Women in Tourism, introduces Michelle Lencoe, Evelyn Pepler, Glendyrr Fick, Judy Dixon, Magdalene Moos and Elizabeth Vertue.
Look out for part two next week!
Michelle Lencoe is a qualified South African tour guide who operates as Li Themba Crafts and Tour. Her tour takes you through her home township of Smutsville in Sedgefield, highlighting the hidden gems of the neighbourhood and showcasing the artistic talent and cultural entrepreneurship of the community.
Michelle started her career in tourism at the Sedgefield Tourism Office and qualified as a tour guide in 2015. She is also a certified lifeguard and has helped to keep our beaches safe during the Christmas holidays.
Always an over achiever, Michelle has been selected to go on a SME speed market mentorship for representing Sedgefield at 2017 Tourism Indaba in Durban. As her mentor Charmaine Beukes explained when she did her presentation to win a place in the Durban Tourism Indaba, her passion for her home town Sedgefield was more than evident.
Her vision is to change the lives of those in her community for the better.
Evelyn first arrived in the Garden Route at 19 years old and, with a passion for the hospitality industry, started working in restaurants before she established her own B&B at the age of 23. She met and married Stephan, a yacht builder who was building a yacht in Plett, and in 1998 the couple launched the 50ft Outeniqua sailing yacht and started a yacht charter company, Spring Tide Charters in Knysna.
In 2012 she bought a small operation consisting of an old boat with two engines known as Ocean Odyssey Charters, the only permit holder for whale and dolphin watching in Knysna, which she has turned into a successful business.
Over the years Evelyn has been involved in many collaborative marketing initiatives and organisations including Plett accommodation association, Plettenberg Bay tourism, Active Garden Route, and Gartour. In 2014 she was elected chairperson of SABBWWA (South African Boat Based Whale Watching Association). She has also achieved Blue Flag status accreditation – under WESSA - for all Odyssey vessels for the last two years, and acquired SATSA (South African Tourism Services Association) accreditation for both Ocean Odyssey and Springtide Charters. She is a qualified nature site guide and whale-watching guide, and a member of SKAL Garden Route. She was recently elected to the newly formed Garden Route SATSA chapter.
She is mom to two boys aged 11 and 14, and describes herself as an energetic, outspoken, fearless, creative, inquisitive, driven person who is not easily intimidated.
Glendyrr Fick is a Tourism Development Consultant, with a passion for Community Tourism. She is a daughter from the Griqua, Khoi-San Tribe, and has strong ties with local communities in general.
She joined the Knysna Tourism team in 2001, managing Tourism Development Projects, and working with organisations like Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), South Cape Land Claims, Open Africa Route Development, and the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT).
Her projects include Knysna Living Local (marketing initiative for local community tourism initiatives), and the Mothers of Creation Rural Tourism Route which she established through her collaboration with South Cape Land Claims, Open Africa and FTTSA.
Glendyrr joined the IIPT in 2011, after meeting the president, Louis D’ Amore. She introduced him to several of her tourism initiatives, including the Green Chefs Garden Route programme which the IIPT endorsed and presented at the most recent World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly in Zambia/Zimbabwe.
In November 2017 Glendyrr spread her wings when she accepted the position of Manager of the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival.
Glendyrr holds a Bachelor in Development Studies from UNISA and a Post Graduate Diploma in Sustainable Tourism Destination Management from the West Flanders Economic Institute (Belgium).
Her dream is to extend the Green Chefs Initiative across National Parks throughout the world, and to connect indigenous peoples as a result.
After retiring from teaching and moving down to Rondevlei in Sedgefield, Judy Dixon soon found that she could combine her knowledge and passion by becoming a tour guide. She took a FGASA level 1 course and what initially started as a fundraising venture for the various organisations in which she was involved, became the unique encounters with Nature that she now offers.
Most popular are the Moonlight Meanders and Starlight Strolls, but forest trails, canoeing on the rivers, birding and hiking up the mountains are also on offer. With a knowledge of botany, zoology, astronomy and geology, Judy finds the Garden Route the perfect place to take people on infotaining ventures. “It also keeps me fit and allows me to enjoy another interest, swimming. In between I find time to travel, indulge in photography, breed clivias, play bridge, read, do stained glass creations and socialise,” she says.
Magdalene Moos describes herself as a self-made woman, born and bred in Concordia, Knysna. When she finished school, she started studying for a teacher’s diploma at Khomasdal College of Education in Namibia but had to give up her studies due to financial constraints.
Magdalene then become a community development worker. While she was doing upliftment work in her community she identified the need for early childhood development facilities in Concordia and in August 1996 she started a preschool there, where she worked for three years as a volunteer. Later that year, she opened her own preschool, Magdaleentjie, which she describes as a multi-purpose centre - over weekends it becomes a safe haven for women in need or victims of crime.
Magdalene is a single mom of two daughters, Alexis and Alexandre. She was the first female Provincial Chairperson of the Community Police Board, and is also Chairperson of Sinethemba, Deputy Chairperson of the Hospital Board, Chairperson of the SGB of Concordia High, a lay councillor of FAMSA, and a tour guide.
“My passion is to do good and leave a legacy of a fearless, selfless servant of the people,” she says. “My dream is to be an ambassador for my town and to share with others how privileged we are to live in an awesome town like Knysna.”
Elizabeth Vertue is Development and Marketing Co-ordinator/PRO for Emporium Knysna.
An avid foodie, wine lover and entertainer, Elizabeth is passionate about the hospitality industry in which she has been working for 25 years. She started her journey as a waitress at the age of 15, and after gaining some experience overseas, returned to South Africa to be part of the training team at Spur Head Office, helping to set up new restaurants and doing all the owner and staff training.
Elizabeth returned to Knysna to join the family business as part of the management team at what was then Peddlars on the Quay. It was floundering at the time, but a change of name, chef and philosophy, turned it into one of Knysna’s favourite eating spots, The Drydock Food Co.
She was also part of the team that opened Sirocco and Lush (now Tapas&Oysters) and, although not actively involved in the day-to-day running of restaurants anymore, does all the staff and management training as well as the appointment of senior staff for 34 South, Drydock, Tapas&Oysters, Sirocco and the Project Bar.
Elizabeth says she is passionate about training and watching people grow and reach their full potential, “one of the most satisfying aspects of my work. I believe the people in our businesses are key to our success. Some skills can be taught but passion, dedication and good people skills are essential ingredients to what we do.”