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Focussed on diversity, equity and inclusion, not only has this Free State favourite stood the test of time, but it’s also leading the way in responsible tourism.

BON Hotel Bloemfontein Central holds a special place in BON Hotel’s portfolio. The hotel, which is situated in the heart of Bloemfontein’s business district, celebrates its 50th birthday in August 2022.

The hotel, under the leadership of GM Pieter Van Rooyen, is renowned for its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), borne out by their recent Gold Award in the 2022 World Responsible Tourism Awards – Africa region.

“Fifty years on and BON Hotel Bloemfontein is still rated as one of the best hotels in South Africa,” says BON Hotels CEO Guy Stehlik. “And while it has a long history and strong roots in the Bloemfontein community, it’s ahead of the curve when it comes to issues of empowerment, sustainability and responsible tourism.”

This year at WTM Africa, BON Hotel Bloemfontein Central was shortlisted in the Increasing Diversity in Tourism category, eventually scooping gold for their shareholding structure, training and development programme, and partnership with Towers of Hope, an NGO located across the street from the hotel which works to improve the lives of marginalised citizens in the inner-city of Bloemfontein.

BON Hotel Bloemfontein Central is owned by three shareholders and the staff. In 2007 the hotel appointed previously-disadvantaged staff members to the board of directors and went on to create a staff share trust. Fifty-one per cent of the shares in the business is allocated to staff, with the initiative self-funded from the hotel’s profits.

“It’s a real point of difference – and point of pride – for the BON Hotel team,” says GM Pieter Van Rooyen.

“We are committed to investing in our people and in our community, and are building an inclusive workplace where everyone in the hotel from cleaners to managers has a share in the success of the hotel. The staff have ownership which facilitates staff retention through development and promotion – and enhances service delivery. Most of our management team have progressed through the ranks.”

BON Hotel Bloemfontein Central has also cemented a strong relationship with Towers of Hope in order to upskill and empower previously-disadvantaged members of the community.

“It’s an exciting time for the BON Hotel Bloemfontein Central team,” says Stehlik. “Not only can they look back and celebrate 50 years, which is a massive milestone, but they can also look forward to an incredibly bright future as a hotel committed to demonstrable change – and showing others in the industry how it can be done.”

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