Africa Travel Week
Helen Bolton

A Brit in Africa

Helen Bolton

Helen Bolton presently heads up the New Frontiers Tours Sales Team. She began her career in Inbound Tourism in 1996 with Thompsons Tours, an exciting and growing sector of the industry at this time and often credited as being the forerunners of the market, as international travel to South Africa wasn’t a reality during the dark years of Apartheid.

In 1999 Helen was appointed in the senior position of Reservations Manager for Europe and in 2004, after having her first child, took a more flexible roll as Training Manager. In 2008 Helen started Unwind Africa with Craig Smith and Paula Moore, a sister company to New Frontiers Tours. In 2011 she decided to take some time out to raise her 3 young children and, although longer than initially anticipated, she enjoyed 8 special years focusing on her family before returning to her work ‘family’ at New Frontiers Tours in August 2019.  Interesting timing some may say!  Helen is delighted to be back in the game, sharing her love and passion for selling this incredible corner of Africa as a holiday destination. 

Where did your love for travel start? 

During annual family holidays to the Cape during my childhood 

Why do you enjoy working in the industry? 

I love the connection and friendships with colleagues and trade partners from all over the world, the industry is made up of the most incredible collection of individuals. It’s a privilege to be a part of it! 

What is your favorite destination/place to visit and why? 

The Karoo! It makes up a huge chunk of South Africa’s land mass and I wish more people would experience it. The nothingness, the simplicity of life, the slow pace, long hot summer days, the big blue skies and star-studded nights. The little dorpies (small towns) so uniquely South African full of characters, never too far from a delish piece of melktert and the local spice! 

Tell us about one of your most memorable travel experiences and why it stands out. 

This is tough! All my travel experiences are memorable, from honeymooning in Greece, cycling through Tuscany, travelling on Rovos to Vic Falls, many Southern African safaris and holidaying with friends in Mozambique. I’d probably say my most recent trip to Kosi Bay in Jan 2021 with my family – it has been a long hard year of lockdowns and we had planned to be in Knysna and Hermanus but with South Africa’s second wave and tightened lock down restrictions we cancelled last minute. We booked a trip up to Northern KwaZulu Natal, to Kosi Bay one of the few places where the beaches were open at that stage. We love this corner of the world it is so unique and was just what we all needed to connect in with nature and revitalize our souls! 

Give us a travel tip you don’t think anyone else gives.. or that isn’t given enough. 

Don’t rush, rather than seeing Southern Africa as a destination see each individual country as its own destination and travel with intent to each. Too many itineraries try to cover too much in too short a space of time, missing out on the lesser-known spots, the true gems. 

Based on the five senses and thinking about travelling what do you 

Like to see: Unspoilt spaces in nature  

Like to taste: Fresh, healthy local food 

Like to feel: Unrushed, having no time constraints 

Like to hear: Silence (I have a very loud household!) 

Like to smell: good coffee 

Do you have any 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? 

The Africa Hub, is an incredible industry resource, for any new Africa sellers out there. 

Tell us something about yourself that no one else knows 

There is a good reason why no one else knows, good to hold onto some mystery! 

Lastly, what are your sentiments on the evolution of trade shows being part virtual? Do you think they can survive being a combination of the two or believe firmly in one over the other? 

I’ve missed the social aspect of live shows, although I have found virtual ones more focused and productive. I feel we would do well with a combination or alternate annually to reduce the number of trade shows on the calendar from a sustainability and cost perspective 

Africa Travel Week

Africa Travel Week (ATW) focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology. Shows include: ILTM Africa, WTM Africa, EQUAL Africa, ibtm AFRICA, Travel Forward, Sports & Events Tourism Exchange and African Tourism Investment Summit.