Twenty-one years ago, a passion for taking risks and an intense love of South Africa and its people drove Kim van der Westhuizen into a career in tourism. She began as an administrative assistant issuing travel vouchers but quickly developed further through her career until she achieved the position of CEO of Involv Africa. Today, she is proud to be accepted as a leader in her field of destination management.
Involv Africa specialises in arranging dream vacations for their clients. They have a tight-knit team of guides based in South Africa and Namibia, all dedicated to creating unique experiences tailored to the individual, says Kim.
Q & A with Kim:
Where did your love for travel start?
I remember travelling to Europe as a young girl and feeling like I was stepping into another world. Every new place I explored felt like an adventure, and I’ve always wanted to see and experience more. I also think of the times when my parents would plan special trips just for us kids.
Even decades later, we still talk about those memories – they were never extravagant, but they were always special. And that’s what I think about when I plan any trip – the moments and memories that can be created and the lasting impact those experiences can have.
Why do you enjoy working in the tourism industry?
At first, I enjoyed everything I learned and experienced. But over time, my focus has shifted to the pride I feel in sharing the beauty of my country with others. I’ve also formed strong relationships with people over the years. Business can be complicated, but in our industry, we have close connections with our competitors, and everyone works together to provide the best experience for our customers.
What is your favourite destination?
My best travel experience to date has been sailing on a catamaran for two weeks along the coastline of Palma de Mallorca, Spain. However, pride in one’s own country starts at home, and as a mother, I want to bring my child up with as much travel within South Africa as possible.
What made Mallorca so memorable?
I had an amazing time in Mallorca – it’s the perfect place for someone who loves the beach and swimming like me. I also loved trying traditional paella for the first time and watching people dance in the streets.
Your best travel tip?
When planning your next holiday, be open to new experiences and suggestions. My favourite way to travel is by creating a lucky packet adventure, where I get to surprise my guests with exciting activities and attractions.
Based on the five senses, what do you…
- Like to see: Sea life while snorkelling.
- Like to taste: A proper paella.
- Like to feel: The feeling of freedom and air! Being in the sunlight really rejuvenates me.
- Like to hear: The buzz and music in evenings around a holiday dinner table!
- Like to smell: The smell of fresh air on the coast.
Tell us something about yourself that no one else knows
Not much, as I’m an open book. I hate WhatsApp calls, though.
What do you enjoy about Africa Travel Week?
This event has a warmth and camaraderie you can’t find anywhere else. I don’t want to generalise, but trade shows have become quite corporate. Although business is business, we should remember that we are in the hospitality industry. At Africa Travel Week, people get a taste of what this industry is really about. Virtual shows are a great way to connect people, but they can never replace human interaction during an event like this.