Martin picked up the ‘travel bug’ during a backpacking trip following his university graduation. Since then, he has made his mark on the tourism and travel industry and is currently the regional EMEA manager at Viator in the United Kingdom. He is passionate about helping enthusiastic travellers plan the trip of their dreams, especially when that trip involves any country in Africa.
How did you fall in love with travelling or start working within the industry as a career?
Having graduated from university with a music degree in the middle of a recession, I decided to take the typical backpacker route through Asia, Australia and New Zealand where I picked up the travel bug. Ever since then, I have been lucky to work in an industry that I love, which has allowed me to visit some of the most incredible places, across 50 countries, including South Africa, Kenya, Dubai, Iceland and Morocco.
What kind of traveller are you?
The older I get, the more I am starting to leave my backpacker routes behind me and upgrade to a little bit of luxury where I can. As much as I love to plan ahead, there is only so much you can do. Most plans will inevitably change the moment that you arrive!
Tell us about one of your most memorable trips/travel moments. Where and why?
My most memorable trip would have to be my most recent one, which was an epic journey through South Africa. With a little help from some of our key partners, I got engaged in the Kruger National Park at sunset. It will always be a travel moment to remember!
What lessons have you learnt from your experience during COVID – both personally and in your business?
That people’s desire to travel and explore this world is stronger than ever. Even though borders have closed, people have taken the opportunity to explore their own countries. It’s also clear that as soon as it’s safe, most will not hesitate to travel further afield again.
How confident are you that the travel and tourism industry in Africa (especially South Africa) will survive & prosper over the next 2-3 years?
Extremely confident! Africa, especially South Africa, has so much to offer. As people look for outdoor adventures, away from the crowds, what better place to spend it than on safari or exploring the winelands? I urge travel suppliers to utilize all avenues available to promote and sell their business as that could provide those 1 or 2 extra bookings needed to keep the doors open. Africans are great at thinking outside of the box and leaning from one another, and it’s this spirit that will enable and empower the industry to recover.
What do we need to do to make sure that happens?
Make sure that you are moving with the times and allowing for effortless online bookings. Also, do not be afraid to ask others for advice or help. There is a ton of resources available online, so do your research, tune into virtual events/webinars and make sure that you are in the best possible situation for when travel returns!
Based on the five senses and thinking about travelling what do you…
- Like to see: The sun setting over the African sky.
- Like to taste: The first glass of wine on a day in the winelands.
- Like to feel: The heat hitting you when you get out of the plane.
- Like to hear: “We have now arrived…”
- Like to smell: Cuisines from all around the world at street food stalls.
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?
For tour operators, activity providers and attractions – I’d strongly recommend joining the Arrival summit, where you can hear from industry leaders and network with like-minded people from around the world. Likewise, you can catch up on sessions earlier on in the year on demand as well!
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)?
For me, face to face meetings are priceless, so I think that live trade shows will continue to be a big part of our industry going forward. Personally, African Travel Week is the highlight of the year. We had previously seen fantastic growth over the past few years, so I’m looking forward to celebrating travellers returning at WTM Africa in 2021 with our many partners!