The VA TourismPodcast
The Unmissable Africa Travel and Tourism Summit 2021

The Unmissable Africa Travel and Tourism Summit 2021

September 13, 2021

Ahead of the maiden Africa Travel and Tourism Summit scheduled to be held next week in South Africa, Chief Convention Bureau Officer of the South African National Convention Bureau Mrs. Amanda Kotze-Nlapo discusses the need for Africa to look at the opportunity the pandemic has offered to work together in furtherance of the Intra Africa travels and trade. Amanda tells me Delegates will have the opportunity to create their own conference and choose topics and activities that most appeal to them on a personal and business level.

Mrs Kotze-Nhlapo joined South African Tourism following a successful tenure at the Cape Town and Western Cape Convention Bureau where she held the position of head of the Bureau for six years. Amanda has 20 years of experience in the industry. 

Register for the summit here 

Ghana’s Kizomba Dance Couple opens up on VA Tourism Podcast

Ghana’s Kizomba Dance Couple opens up on VA Tourism Podcast

August 28, 2021

My conversation today is with Ghana’s Kizomba dance King and Queen, Ebow Anderson and Nana Kwatemaa. The effervescent dance couple in the last decade has thrilled and trained lovers of the Angolan kizomba genre. They make the point that dancing is more than just entertainment but portents for keeping a healthy lifestyle and adding to Ghana’s marquee credentials as a bustling cosmopolitan destination.

An exclusive with Namibia’s Director of Tourism & Gaming Zebulun Chicalu

An exclusive with Namibia’s Director of Tourism & Gaming Zebulun Chicalu

August 23, 2021

In this episode, the New Director of Tourism and Gaming at Namibia’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism Zebulun Chicalu discusses the country’s recovery strategy and their target of a diverse tourism source market. Namibia which until 2-weeks ago had been on a lockdown is optimistic domestic will return and become a key component to their revival strategy.



Sabine Lehmann unpacks SA’s First Attractions Benchmark Survey Report.

Sabine Lehmann unpacks SA’s First Attractions Benchmark Survey Report.

August 19, 2021

Ahead of the Virtual African Association of Visitor Experiences and Attractions (AAVEA) Conference, Executive Director of the Association Sabine Lehmann takes a deep dive into South Africa’s first Attractions Benchmark survey report. She points to data as one key ingredient if Africa is to build back better.

Sabine Lehmann has first-hand insight into the challenges and opportunities facing the attractions industry – especially on the African continent. Having held leadership roles in some of South Africa’s most iconic tourist attractions Sabine understands from the inside out how difficult it is to run a profitable and sustainable attraction in a world that is constantly changing.

Sabine is committed to building African attractions and is the founder and Chair of the African Association of Visitor Experiences and Attractions (AAVEA)  and a government relations committee member of the IAPPA (The Global Association for the Attractions Industry). She holds an MBA from the University of Cape Town and an MPhil (Futures) from the  Stellenbosch University.

Roman Krabel: From Chef to Managing leading Hotel Chains

Roman Krabel: From Chef to Managing leading Hotel Chains

August 18, 2021

My conservation today is with the General Manager of Ghana’s Accra City Hotel Roman Krabel. Roman who has been spearheading operations & pre-openings for world-leading Hotels, along with private brands and properties ranking from 5 to 3 Stars and managing facilities with 450+ rooms in Europe, Asia, the US and Africa discusses the challenges and opportunities of the hospitality sector in West Africa.

Originally from Germany, Roman started his career in culinary arts; He was a Chef for many years. In 2000,  he made career switch to Sales & Marketing, HR and F&B Management and eventually, this led him to become a successful GM. His culinary art and F&B background gave him self-discipline and the mentality for attention to details. The foundation of his success in West Africa (Nigeria and Ghana) lies in his attention to detail, and as a highly motivated person, always works hard to ensure that all processes are efficient. In every hotel that I have worked, I not only bring new energy, fresh ideas and a different way of thinking, but also help fellow work colleagues to achieve their full potential.

Mr. Roman Krabel is also a recipient of over 25 Awards for Professional Achievements including, “Best General Manager” in Africa - World Luxury Hotel Awards 2017, “Most admired GM of the Year” - Africa Hotel Industry Leadership Awards 2018, “Best General Manager” in Africa – International Travel Awards 2019.

Africa Youth in Tourism Conversations: Incorporating the Principles of Business Sustainability for Startups by Akwasi Obeng Adjei

Africa Youth in Tourism Conversations: Incorporating the Principles of Business Sustainability for Startups by Akwasi Obeng Adjei

August 15, 2021

This Episode is a dedicated show to the recently held Africa Youth in Tourism and Innovation Summit in Accra, Ghana. My Guest Akwasi Obeng Adjei, an academic and a seasoned audit director in the financial services industry based in South Africa who also participated at the summit as a speaker, a jurist and a panelist has been sharing his experience of the conference and advises start-ups to incorporate the principles of business sustainability in their models.

He is currently the Director of Audit: Investment Management (South Africa) and Insurance (Rest of Africa) at Absa Bank South Africa and an academic with a vested interest in the Future of Work as a discipline. He has presented on this subject matter at several conferences and organisations and has received numerous accolades. He is a Ph.D. Candidate (Wits) and holds an MBA (Stellenbosch), MCOM (Wits), BSc Hons Management(UJ), BSc IT & Mathematics qualifications.

Rwanda’s Divine Uwase talks Clean and Sustainable Tourism, Digital Marketing and Entreprenuership

Rwanda’s Divine Uwase talks Clean and Sustainable Tourism, Digital Marketing and Entreprenuership

August 12, 2021

My Guest, Divine Uwase, is the founder & CEO of SHARAMA Events & Tours. An eco-friendly tour operating and event planning company based in Rwanda. She has been discussing with me her passion for Clean and Sustainable Tourism, Digital Marketing, and how Africa can tap into the opportunity the covid-19 pandemic presents to build a robust sustainable tourism product with technology as its core base.

She is passionate about Clean and Sustainable Tourism, Digital Marketing, and everything entrepreneurship. Her company offers seamless travel and celebratory experiences to both locals and international guests with unique packages.

With her expertise in Digital Marketing, her company added a new division to help brands stand out through Online Marketing Services. She has worked on various projects with different organizations such as Hanga Ahazaza | Giz, Rwanda Chamber of Tourism and Ikaze PCO.

Her Company SHARAMA Events & Tours has been recognized in 25 Rwandan female-led outstanding businesses in BK Urumuri Initiative and Tourism Inc. in 2020.She holds a Tourism & Hospitality Diploma from Davis College | Akilah Campus, and prior to her startup she worked with Hotel des Mille Collines as a Front Desk agent. She is very zealous about the Tourism and Hospitality industry and committed to its growth. One last fun fact; She is just 22 years old

Talking Innovation and Tourism Education with UNWTO’s Natalia Bayona

Talking Innovation and Tourism Education with UNWTO’s Natalia Bayona

August 7, 2021
My Guest today is the Director of Innovation, Education, and Investments at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Natalia Bayona. She walks me through the initiatives the Madrid-based UN Tourism Agency has embarked on to help growing tourism investments into Africa. 

Natalia Bayona leads the innovation, education and investments strategy of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the United Nations specialized agency for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and accessible tourism worldwide. 

With a diverse background in politics, destination management and business, she has become the first innovation director at UNWTO, has introduced entrepreneurship and education as key factors for tourism and development, and has positioned UNWTO as an innovation benchmark within the wider United Nations system as recognized in the UN 2020 Mapping of Innovation, Data and Digital Capacities. 

Her work consists of identifying the most disruptive startups and investment projects and matching them with Member States and leading corporations. As an advocate of youth and technology, she seeks to make entrepreneurs grow for a promising future in all regions. 

During the last 3 years, Natalia has developed 7 UNWTO Startup Competitions and 6 Innovation Challenges with outcomes such as more than 74 million USD in support for entrepreneurs and pilots for safe travel. Moreover, she has designed the Tourism Tech Adventures innovation forums and co-created the UNWTO Tourism Online Academy, the pioneer platform for advancing skill development for the sector in collaboration with the most prestigious universities such as IE University, Cornell University and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, currently with over 10.000 students. Furthermore, she has created the UNWTO Technical Committee on Tourism Online Education and acts as its Secretary to ensure education is at the forefront of the global agenda. 

 Natalia graduated in Government and International Relations from Universidad Externado de Colombia and holds an Executive MBA from the IE Business School. Nowadays, she is part of the World Economic Forum (WEF) network as a European Digital Leader and is an Eisenhower Fellow as the first Colombian on the Women Leadership Program for creating the first Tourism for Tomorrow Programme: a high-level network focused on joining public-private efforts for high-impact investments in digital education and innovation for tourism’s sustainable development and post Covid-19 recovery. Additionally, she enjoys sharing knowledge by teaching at universities – Harvard, Externado (Colombia) and Bilkent (Turkey) – and public schools in Colombia as part of her give back to youth and her country. 

The Country Manager for Serena Hotels in Rwanda Daniel Sambai bares it all on the Tourism Podcast

The Country Manager for Serena Hotels in Rwanda Daniel Sambai bares it all on the Tourism Podcast

July 23, 2021
Episode 89 of the VA Tourism Podcast celebrates Kenyan Hotelier, Daniel Sambai. Daniel who is currently the General Manager of the Kigali Serena Hotel has been narrating his two decades of learnings in the hospitality sector.

Daniel Sambai is the Country Manager for Serena Hotels in Rwanda with the responsibility of overseeing both the Kigali Serena Hotel and Lake Kivu Serena Hotel. Prior to being posted to Rwanda, Mr. Sambai worked for Serena Hotels in Tanzania and Kenya.Mr. Sambai has a broad and varied experience in the hospitality industry spanning over 20 years majorly in East Africa and the United Kingdom.

Mr. Sambai holds a Bachelor of Commerce Honors degree in Business Management from the University of South Africa and a Diploma in Hotel Management from Kenya Utalii College.

Africa’s Business Events Outlook; A Conversation with Industry Veteran Derek Houston

Africa’s Business Events Outlook; A Conversation with Industry Veteran Derek Houston

July 19, 2021

My conversation today is with Derek Houston, an industry veteran and founder of Houston Travel Marketing Services. He tells me progress in the vaccination program is one of the surest ways of getting back to some sense of normality.

On January 15th, 2021 Derek will have been involved in the travel industry for  56 years. I started my career in Pretoria with S.A.TOURISM and also worked in the Harare Zimbabwe Satour office. In 1969 He joined Trafalgar Tours in Johannesburg as Sales Manager and in 1972 traveled overseas to London to broaden his travel experience.Derek spent three interesting years in London working for a number of travel agencies and tour operators.

He returned to South Africa in 1975 where he worked for Thomas Cook Travel as Assistant Branch Manager and as Branch Manager of Jet International Travel in Johannesburg. In 1979 I transferred to Sunshine Tours as Marketing Director where I spent 4 years helping to build up the company into a major outbound wholesaler and expanding its product range significantly.

But in 1984, Derek felt it was time to do his own thing and that is when He started Houston Travel Marketing Services cc Initially, our main focus was advertising Sales for THE GSA Travel Magazine (the leading travel trade monthly directory in SA). In 1984 we also started our travel trade database offering mailing and fax mailing service to travel agencies /tour operators.

From 1986 to 2001 HTMS represented ABC Travel Publications /OAGTravel Guides as Africa Subscription and marketing representative.

In 2000 HTMS started the SPOTLIGHT ON AFRICA series of workshops to promote “Africa” as a whole to various markets both in Africa and overseas.

Over the last 20 years, HTMS has grown its portfolio of travel trade workshops under The Spotlight brand and we now run 30 trade workshops sessions around Africa and in Europe.In 2005 and 2006 a Spotlight and Africa Roadshow was held in Ireland and in 2006 in Holland and Belgium.In 2007 the workshops were held in Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam., Scotland, Leeds, and Cambridge.

In 2009 we held our first Nordics “Seashow” with workshop sessions on board ship. This was a great success and was repeated in 2009 and 2010 after WTM.  The Nordics Roadshow is now an annual event every November. In 2010 We added Central Europe to the Spotlight Portfolio with workshop sessions in Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. It was such a success that it has been repeated every year to include Warsaw in Poland and Bucharest in Romania.Spotlight workshops are also now held annually in Southern African cities such as Harare, Gaborone, Windhoek, Maputo, Nairobi, Luanda and Addis Ababa.

Is West Africa’s Domestic and Regional Tourism  Ready for take off? Dr Adun Okupe unpacks the Conundrum

Is West Africa’s Domestic and Regional Tourism Ready for take off? Dr Adun Okupe unpacks the Conundrum

July 9, 2021
My Guest, Dr. Adun Okupe is a leading researcher and expert in the fields of tourism, sustainable cultural practices, and leadership for societal change. Dr. Adun with her partners has led the conversation in promoting domestic and regional tourism in west Africa since the onset of the covi19 pandemic.
She is an advocate for sustainable tourism development in West Africa as well as the cultural and creative industries in Africa. She is a Senior Advisor with Red Clay Advisory, a tourism advisory practice; Host of the West African Tourism Roundtable Series, and faculty member at the prestigious Lagos Business School. 

Dr Adun has over 15 years’ research and advisory experience in infrastructure and development advisory services in the tourism and leisure industry as well as advising on the leisure component of urban planning in sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. She has worked with several organisations including the Universities of Edinburgh and Surrey, the World Travel & Tourism Council, KPMG London, and the W Hospitality Group. 

She is also the founder of The Sahara Centre, a not-for-profit committed to the development of the creative economy in Nigeria through research and policymaking and INDIGO, an eco-friendly shared workspace in Lagos, Nigeria. She is the President and a Board Member of Zonta eClub of West Africa, a part of Zonta International and sits on the advisory group of Open House Lagos and is a member of the Academy of International Business. She led the research on the Lagos State COVID-19 Relief Committee for the creative industries and with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) on understanding the effectiveness of interventions in the creative industries. 

Adun is a seasoned keynote speaker, panelist, lecturer, moderator and industry event facilitator. She has been featured on several local and international media across the world discussing domestic tourism, sustainable tourism development, and how to harness West Africa’s creative tourism potential. 

She earned a Ph.D. in Tourism Leadership from the University of Surrey, a Masters in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London and holds first class degree in Business Economics from the University of Keele. Adun Okupe, Ph.D. is a qualified Chartered Accountant and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland. She is the curator of The Conversations at The Sahara Centre which features industry experts in the tourism, cultural and creative industries and host the Business Strategy Session for Executives and Entrepreneurs in the creative, arts and tourism industry. 


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