Perhaps Superwoman is the best name for Tsebo Mashishi – travel agency owner for the past 10 years, a wife and mother to 4 beautiful children. Ever since Tsebo sat in Geography class in Grade 6 and learnt about all the different countries in the world, she has dreamed of visiting them. Dreams do come true with hard work and passion as Tsebo has experienced. Today, Tsebo is CEO of D12 Travel based in Bryanston, South Africa. She counts herself lucky, having travelled to South Africa, Botswana, Zanzibar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Phuket, Bali, Kuala Lumpur and Mauritius.
How did you fall in love with travelling or start working within the industry as a career?
It was during a Geography class in grade 6, that I started learning about all the different countries and imagined visiting one day. Since then, I have been glued to the world map, travel magazine and basically any travel show. I have always been fascinated with planes so from very early on, I knew that I somehow wanted to be a part of the tourism industry. I am glad I chose the correct career path for me and I love it so much!
What kind of traveller are you?
I prefer luxury travel. It is pricey but it’s always totally worth the experience.
Tell us about one of your most memorable trips/travel moments. Where and why?
I have so many, but Bangkok always stands out for me. I loved everything about the city.
It’s busy, loud, the food is delicious, the people are very friendly, the hotels are beautiful and there is so much to see and do. I have visited Bangkok for the past 4 years in a row and every time I go, I feel like it’s my first visit. The city does not sleep, and it is also very affordable which makes the experience that much more memorable.
What lessons have you learnt from your experience during COVID – both personally and in your business?
Personally, I have learnt to appreciate life, to be grateful for health, family and friends. I have learned to also pause and be present.
Business-wise, COVID has taught me to be flexible and diverse in my approach. Always research and to be updated with what’s happening in tourism nationally and globally. I have learned to adjust to all the changes and to our new normal with a positive attitude.
How confident are you that the travel and tourism industry in Africa (especially South Africa) will survive & prosper over the next 2-3 years?
I am very confident that the industry will pick up and survive. Already we are seeing so many adjustments, especially on the accommodation side. Many hotels have adjusted their prices to suit locals and it is becoming more affordable for an average South African to travel and enjoy our country. I see more African countries have also implemented local rates and they are also seeing more locals exploring their country. This is a good step in the right direction.
What do we need to do to make sure that happens?
Adjust the prices to be more affordable, for both accommodation and airfares. More hotels can introduce meals in their rates. We can learn to be more flexible in our approach especially for day visitors and day tours. Africa has so much to offer and we have world class hotels, unique product offerings, friendly people, great weather, good food and diverse cultures.
Based on the five senses and thinking about travelling what do you…
Like to see: More authentic African products.
Like to taste: A variety of African food and seafood.
Like to feel: Foot massages after a long day of excursions and exploring.
Like to hear: The sound of hummingbirds at new destinations.
Like to smell: The fresh scent of the hotel lobby and freshly brewed coffee.
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?
Conde Nast Traveller, UNILAD Adventure, Hotels Catalogue, Touropia, The World is Yours. I also recommend some Travel Vloggers as their channels are very informative.
Lastly, what do you love about Africa Travel Week (WTM Africa) and do you think live trade shows will still be important going forward (why)?
I love the exciting meetings with new suppliers and travel partners, the educational trips and workshops. Absolutely, I think we still need travel shows as they give us much needed access and provide a link to all the stakeholders in the industry.