Words: Alicia English Images: Getty Images
When tourism entrepreneur Cathy Oosterwyk established her tour operator business in 2006, she started out as a one-woman show with a nine- seater van. By 2010, her business had gained traction and she was receiving more bookings, which enabled her to outsource opportunities to freelance tour guides who had their own vehicles.
“It was a very long and hard struggle for me with just one van, and to keep up with payments during the winter months. On a few occasions, I was not able make payments but with the help of trusted sources, I was able to pull through. Every year, things got better. I networked with other people in tourism and gained their trust and support to get more of the market share,” she recalls.
As time progressed, Cathy’s business acquired more vehicles and she was
able to employ her first full-time staff member to help with marketing, systems and admin. In 2017, her company Fairest Cape Meander Tours employed its first permanent tour guide and continued to use freelance tour guides when the need arose.
Today, Fairest Cape Meander Tours has 19 employees and supports three freelance tour guides. One of her biggest concerns is the impact that her company’s financial losses will have on the people she employs.
“We have since grown from strength to strength and employed more drivers and staff. We hope that this COVID-19 pandemic will not last for too long so we can continue to retain staff and empower families,” she says.