Goodbye Fedhasa, not Tourism and certainly not one to QUIT!

Dungan quits Fedhasa Hotel & Restaurant brings you the insice story on why Brett Dungan, the CEO of Fechasa, has resigned from the association and other industry bodies. STEPPING DOWN: Brett Dungan, the energetic and outspoken CEO of Fedhasa, ex-hotelier and ongoing force for change in the hospitality industry, has announced that he is stepping down from his duties at Fedhasa as well as other tourism entities in which he is involved. He will continue to serve the industry through to the end of the year and this will include his involvement in the Imvelo Awards event which takes place in November. Dungan currently serves on several other boards and associations, including the ‘Tourism Business Council of South Africa, South African Tourism, the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa and the Fedhasa Large Group Hotel Committee. He was appointed chairman of Fedhasa National in 2003 and later appointed CEO. Together with Fedhasa he founded the Imvelo Responsible Tourism Awards in 2002, which has grown to the point that eco-friendly and responsible tourism practices are now the norm in industry, and no longer a quirky hobby of the odd “green” hotelier. From the start, Dungan promised two things: he would work hard to bring about positive change in the industry, and he would not keep quiet about things he believes need to be tackled firmly. He has challenged industry members to be honest and transparent in their undertakings, whether it’s government or the private sector, regarding transformation or technology, conserving the planet or dealing with crime. “People think I am Fedhasa, but that is my passion, not my job. Had I not had that support from my e-commerce business, TradeRoot, I 0 ABOVE: Brett Dungan says he is leaving the industry employers’ association in good shape and will be devoting his attention to developing his e-commerce businesses. could not have been as committed to tourism as I have been. There were always synergies: tourism touches all areas and it made good sense. I have so enjoyed this path and it is an exciting place to be: explains Dungan. “My credo in life is: ‘You’re never given a dream without also being given the ability to make it come true’. When I joined I knew this would be a tough assignment and that I could make a difference’: he adds. In addition to being a seasoned hotelier, Dungan’s other business is a combination of technology and tourism in the form of Itis and Travelbuy, e-commerce platforms that process over RI-billion of industry transactions a month. He continues to drive growth and innovation on online platforms. On the public/private sector relationships: “They have never worked more closely together, but they are different. Public sector doesn’t understand why private sector isn’t more transparent with more open diplomacy and private sector d(wsn’t understand that public sector needs so much time to get things done;’ he points out. However, Dungan says that the private and public sectors are working together better now than ever before, even though there is a fundamental difference in how they operate: those involved in the private sector do not know where their next salary is coming from and those in the public sector do. “The private sector has to make profits so they can pay tax. It is this tax that funds the public sector which provides the framework for the private sector. It cannot be a ‘them and us’ — it is a ‘WE’ situation;’ he stresses. Entrepreneurship and action are Dungan’s strong points. He gets impatient when the politics, ivory towers and hidden agendas get in the way of real progress. He says: “I cannot understand the reluctance of businesses to run as businesses. They focus on being so politically correct that the fundamentals of being in business — such as making a profit — are then an issue. When asked what I am going to do afterwards, high on my priority list is organising a grouping with like-minded business people not afraid of making a profit. They will in turn pay tax which will allow the public sector to continue their political activities. “We need to ask ourselves, what did I achieve today? Are my meetings achieving their goals? This has made me look at my life and work differently. I now live in the Drakensberg, so to attend a meeting must make a difference, not just be another opportunity to talk shop. “Sector transformation and people development are part of what we do. It is a far more complex relationship that tourism is involved in as a whole. It is not a ‘bits and pieces’ business — it requires marketing, employment, sustainability, empowerment. There is so much that congregates around tourism and those involved are absolutely passionate people — that’s why it’s a calling, not just a job. Our business is property development and people development — it is all of these things, it’s not straightforward!’ Dungan’s legacy to Fedhasa is a restructured association that is financially sound and reliant on strong regions to service its members’ needs. This was a passion that Dungan dedicated time to — “Instead of building train sets I helped an industry” he says. He is most proud of the success and adoption of the Imvelo awards and the understanding by the industry that it can do the largest events in the world very well. Dungan will be missed in his formal capacity, but he is not letting the industry down. He will remain passionate about tourism in general, and feels it is time to partner with likeminded people, keen to be successful and profitable, creating employment and paying tax. “The whole world has challenges and changes coming at it, and those changes are coming quicker and quicker. Unless people understand that if they do not at least keep up with the changes they will be lost forever. All is not well in the industry, and we need to wake up:’ he stresses. Although criticised publicly from time to time, Dungan has never been afraid to face the tough questions and say what many might not have dared to say. He has always been available for honest comment and answers. His critics may not have wanted to hear what he had to say, but he is always truthful and frank, ready to answer any question put to him. He offers the following advice for his successor, as yet unnamed: “Choose the issues and projects with great care, because it is impossible to deal with all of the industry issues. It is impossible to fight all of the things — find your champions in different areas. The only reason someone will spend time on something is because they are really good at it, it’s good for their business and they have a passion. “We need someone involved in training, whose business is in training. We need to have someone who is involved in SMME development. The best person for the job is usually someone who is in that business already!’ He goes on to say: “One of my mentors, Alan Gooderson, who was the chairman of the KZN Fedhasa at the time when I first started, said to me: I am here for my business. What’s good for my business will be good for other businesses like mine. “Things however change with time and all the political correctness is making it harder for people to make decisions or proposals without facing huge opposition and as a result less and less gets done!” His last words: “I love what I do, because it is a passion it was never a ‘job: While I was quite confident about the leadership of the association, the accommodation sector is only a small part of the tourism industry. Who is going to take that industry to the next level?”
Copyright © 2011 Newsclip Media Monitoring (PTY) LTD.

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