Umfolozi’s new ‘cowgirl’ thinks big
LIGHT-HEARTEDLY describing herself as the ‘new cowgirl in town’, Nishara Naidoo is gearing up to break barriers and inject some life into the area.
Nishara was recently appointed as Marketing Manager for the Umfolozi Hotel Casino Convention Resort and has some big plans moving forward.
With almost 20 years’ experience in events planning, branding, advertising and marketing, Nishara offers some intriguing insight into the direction she plans on taking Umfolozi Casino.
‘I want to position it as a resort because I need to get the public to understand that we are not just a casino.
‘This is really a jewel and I can’t fathom why it isn’t where I think it should be.
That’s why I want to take it there.’
Her impressive résumé, which boasts an honours degree in drama and English from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, a master’s degree in brand management from Vega, as well as a host of other diplomas and certificates relating to project and events management, marketing and health and safety, provides only a glimpse of what she has achieved thus far.
She previously worked for companies such as the Durban International Convention Centre (Senior Events Manager), The Hardy Boys (Group Head Account Director for Africa, Middle East and Turkey) as well as the eThekwini Municipality (Moses Mabhida Stadium Brandy Strategy Consultant).
The entertainment features that Nishara aims to bring to the area include a portable water park for the festive period as a start.
‘This park will not be something permanent, but rather something that we can bring in, have set up and ensure it is extremely safe - because that is one thing that I feel strongly about - safety.
‘This is not something small.
We’re talking about a major water park in the sense that some of the rides are as high as the big ones at Ushaka Marine World.
‘For now it’s something we want to try and do on an annual basis, but who knows, if we get the right people on board, it could become a permanent feature.
‘Coupled with this water park, which will be very family orientated, we want to also explore the aspects of a night market with food stalls, movies on a big screen and a whole lot more,’ she said.
The water park will run between 13 December and 6 January.
All day passes will include access to age zoned rides, a craft market and outdoor food courts.
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Apart from their Christmas lunch this year, Nishara has conceptualised multiple New Year’s eve events and has included her network of off-the-chart entertainers and lighting specialists for Zululand.
The NYE masquerade ball will also present a kids’ mini masquerade ball as Nishara is well aware that this special day is a family day. The controlled and safe kiddies’ area will include a kids’ buffet, bubble machines, mask painting, disco and nap camp.
And while one might feel that the mother of two is way in over her head, big events are no strangers to Nishara.
This year she headed up the production and marketing for the Amstel Boomtown event at the annual Vodacom Durban July, South Africa’s biggest horse racing event – something which she seemed to have executed with ease.
While Nishara has been in the area for less than a month, she says she has already picked up on a few nuances that she looks forward to trying to change.
‘What I’ve noticed is that there’s this sort of ‘them and us’ thing going on between Empangeni and Richards Bay.
‘I’m looking forward to blurring those lines, but as I said, the main thing is changing people’s perceptions that we are just a casino.
‘When I ask people what they’re doing this weekend, I want them to not even think twice before saying ‘Umfolozi Casino’, because we want to create that atmosphere where people have things to constantly do here.
‘We have the space, we have the security and now it’s time to up the gear in terms of our events,’ she said.