Where did your love for travel start?
I have always enjoyed travel from a child when I used to travel to the South of France and Spain every year as a child for the winter holidays, I loved aircraft, hotels and meeting people from all over the world. My Godparents live in Oslo and we always travelled to Norway over the Festive Season and New Year to ski, so again travel was really in my blood from the beginning.
Why do you enjoy working in the industry?
Our industry is wonderful as one is able to meet people from all over the world and indeed through my career, I have had the privilege of travelling the entire world. Our story in terms of Tourism Corporation Africa is unique and it was when I had the great privilege of meeting the “Madiba” I was inspired to take the story to the world, I have to say I have enjoyed every moment.
What is your favourite destination/place to visit and why?
I think on the African Continent Mozambique for the Island and Island living, the people are so wonderful and I love beach living, which is ultimately chilled out and laid back and then the Serengeti in Tanzania. The Great Migration is mind-blowing and puts everything into perspective. It is absolutely awesome to see the Wildebeest cross the Mara River – a matinee so to say – a true performance of nature at its best. Over and above Sydney is one of my favourite cities in the world. It is sophisticated and offers some of the finest easy dining experiences in the world. COVID-19 however has changed that angle of our life’s as it has for all of us, I think and it will not be much before 2025 when we hope our world will return to some form of normality – the new norm!
Tell us about one of your most memorable travel experiences and why it stands out.
I think travelling to Bali and the Island of Sumba about 4 years back when we had the privilege of staying at Nihi – an inspiring resort that was very much created by South African, James McBride and his business associate Chris Birch. We stayed in his private Villa at Nihi for ten days and then I really learnt the fine art of hospitality at its very best, which is most likely why Nihi continues to gain award after award with the likes of Conde Nast Traveler, James McBride is a true inspiration to hospitality and I have learnt so much from Jamie.
Give us a travel tip you don’t think anyone else gives.. or that isn’t given enough…
To be very honest I have not been on long-haul or a flight since February 2020 can you believe seems very odd as my whole life previously was travelling across the continent and around the world from Sydney to London and Cape to LA! How COVID-19 has changed perspective to I guess the one travel tip I would have is that “it’s time to travel once again and as soon as possible” We are heading to Mozambique and Azura at Benguerra for 10 days in October and cannot wait! The Winds of Revival are once again blowing across Africa and I am so excited!
Based on the five senses and thinking about travelling what do you…
Like to see: I love the bush and seeing nature and beast in harmony with one another.
Like to taste: Flavors of the world, from Thailand to Singapore, France to Italy – I am a genuine foodie!
Like to feel: My cashmere jumpers in winter!
Like to hear: Nature and the sounds of the bush!
Like to smell: The bush in winter early in the morning, it is a very special smell as are the Pine Forests of Norway!
Can you give us some suggestions on resources for other travel and tourism stakeholders? Any websites, publications, podcasts, thought leaders you can recommend or newsletters we should sign up to?
I think the circumstances that have prevailed since the end of 2019, have changed the dynamics of travel and hospitality as we knew it. That said and on a very positive note this can open doors of opportunity in the future. I am a positive person by nature so in both East Africa and Southern Africa, my business partner Donna Duggan and I as well as the team are finding innovative new ways to run operations, manage our businesses and indeed in taking our story to the world. Social media, zooms, virtual meetings are tools we never used in the past in all honesty, we now use them every day! There are thousands of digital communications one can now sign up to, personally I have Conde Nast Traveler to keep in touch with global trends and ideas, The New York Times to keep up with what’s happening around the globe and over and above, a very good travel organization called ILTM! There you have it!
Tell us something about yourself that no one else knows
How can I tell you as then everybody will know! I remain numb but I have a passion for nature and simplicity and the last two years has made me more aware than ever of the values of that! Over and above I love people and I feel so privileged to have met so many wonderful human beings around the world!
Lastly, what do you love about Africa Travel Week (WTM Africa)? What are your sentiments on virtual trade shows being the new norm?
There are many optional trade shows and fairs around the world, and over the year, we have done most, if not all. however, in so saying, ILTM Africa and ILTM Cannes have always been on my favourite list and ones we have continually been privileged to be part of over the years. Why? The simple answer it is focused, they reap reward on revenue invested, and they are not a “continual party” where people focus on tipples rather than business albeit I am the first to agree that our industry is very sociable indeed, which must be one of the reasons we all so enjoy it!!