GTTP Alumna Profile: Sumey Cabello Le Roux from South Africa

Sumey Cabello Le Roux was a South African Winner of the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership Research Award in 2002 while a student at Duineveld High School in Upington in the Northern Cape Province.  She and her fellow South African winner Leandra Brand presented their research on the Nama people, a vanishing culture, at the GTTP’s annual student/teacher conference, which was held in Nice, France that year.

Sumey, who is now 30, tells us how she went from high school to a senior hotel management job in 12 years via 53 countries.

After graduating from Duineveld High School in 2003, I completed a 2 and a half year international diploma in Hospitality Studies at the Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch not far from Cape Town. As part of my practical work experience, I was placed at Reuben’s Restaurant in Franschhoek for 3 months. After completing my studies I was offered a full time job at Reuben’s as Restaurant Manager. I worked at there for almost 2 years and learnt so much about the hospitality industry.

However, I always wanted to travel and see the world. I hoped to get an opportunity to work on cruise ships and applied through an agency. I was very fortunate to be hired by one of the most well-known luxury cruise companies, Crystal Cruises. They are a 6-star cruise company with only 2 ships. I was assigned to Crystal Serenity. I started my first contract as a server and was gradually promoted to a Petty Officer.

I traveled the globe (53 countries in total) for almost 6 years and had the time of my life. We sailed a 120 day world cruise every year, spent the summer in the Mediterranean and finished off the year in the Caribbean. Waking up in Italy today, tomorrow in the Greek Islands, the day there after in Spain… what better way to travel the world, experience different cultures and work in a 6-star environment?

Sumey being awarded “Employee of the Month” on board Crystal Cruises in 2011
Sumey receives the “Employee of the Month” award on board Crystal Cruises in 2011


I returned to South Africa in 2012 after having spent 6 years cruising the world. I began working for a hotel and restaurant group in Cape Town which caters for international clientele. I started as a manager, was promoted to general manager and then area manager within 3 years.

Looking back, I can confirm that the GTTP had a strong influence on my career choice. After our trip to France in 2002 for the student/teacher conference, I knew I wanted to travel and to see the world, meet great people and learn about different cultures. The GTTP encouraged and motivated young people like myself to pursue careers in tourism and to strive for bigger and better opportunities. The exposure in France made me realise our country of South Africa has so much to offer and we need to expose that to the world. It made me proud to be a South African and I wanted to help preserve our heritage and make others take pride in our beautiful country.

Since the GTTP, my life changed completely. I was more focused on my future career and how to achieve my goals. We met wonderful people in France – friends for life. Everything was so professionally organised and to represent South Africa on an international platform made me very proud of my country. It also made me realise that all of us have a role to play in promoting tourism in our respective countries.

I made many friends at the 2002 GTTP conference and when I visited Ireland, I met up with one of them. We had coffee and it was great to share good memories. We have both traveled extensively so we could share all our favorite places in the world.

Passion can take you very far, if you can dream it you can achieve it. Never give up on your dreams.

Our industry is very demanding and you have to be very dedicated. Work hard at school – the rewards are endless.

In this industry you can meet interesting people, experience amazing cultures and history, visit wonderful countries. A career in the tourism and hospitality industry is hard work but is at the same time very rewarding!!!

When I returned to South Africa in 2012, I married the love of my life. My husband Manuel is from Chile and we decided to settle in the beautiful city of Cape Town in South Africa. We are both working in the hospitality industry. Manuel is a wine director and sommelier for one of South Africa’s most luxurious boutique hotels.

In October 2014 we became the proud parents of Myla Carmen, our beautiful daughter, now just over a year old. She is the biggest blessing and motherhood is very special. I took some time off to spend with our daughter and am looking forward to be back in the industry very soon.

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