Daniela Köster is the owner of Genuss Touren, a German tour operator that specialises in Africa, the Indian Ocean and a tiny bit of Europe. Although Daniela has been working in the tourism industry for more than 20 years, she still gets excited every time she receives a new request to plan a journey. Approaching these requests much as she would planning her own trip, Daniela counts herself fortunate to have visited more than 65 countries. As much as she has seen the world, she says there is nothing quite like setting her feet on African soil.
How did you fall in love with travelling or start working within the industry as a career?
I think it’s in my genes. My grandmother was an ardent traveller all her life and she inspired me to travel when I was a child. She always talked about her journeys and took us grandchildren on trips with her. Even when she was over 100 years old, she kept telling me: “If I were younger, I would join you on your next trip.” Somehow it was the obvious career choice for me.
What kind of traveller are you?
I love to plan journeys, both for my customers and myself. Having said that, even if I plan my personal journeys in detail, I still love getting lost in a city and do some detours. I very much enjoy staying in boutique luxury hotels and lodges but also rustic tented camps. Places I enjoy simply have to have personality and charm.
Tell us about one of your most memorable trips/travel moments. Where and why?
Definitely my trip to Uganda. Seeing gorillas and chimpanzees up close is really a once in a lifetime experience.
What lessons have you learnt from your experience during COVID – both personally and in your business?
For me, customers are guests. Caring for your guests always pays you back. 95% of my guests have postponed their trip and the ones that have travelled during the last couple of months have been very understanding and grateful.
My biggest learning is that our industry can achieve something so long as we all work together. That’s why two colleagues and I have started a petition, demanding a reform of the EU Travel Package Directive.
How confident are you that the travel and tourism industry in Africa (especially South Africa) will survive & prosper over the next 2-3 years?
Customers are willing to travel. Most of them are not afraid of the virus and trust the tourism industry’s hygiene protocols. But they just don’t want to risk being stranded like during the first lockdown or having to stay in quarantine after their holiday.
Africa with its vast open spaces and journeys in nature are exactly the sort of holidays people are craving. So I am confident that the continent will prosper over the next years.
What do we need to do to make sure that happens?
We have to be successful in conveying the message that behaviour, not place, is important. And that all countries in Africa have excellent protocols in place.
Based on the five senses and thinking about travelling what do you…
Like to see: Table Mountain.
Like to taste: Eggs Benedict for breakfast.
Like to feel: The African sun on my skin.
Like to hear: A camp choir, welcoming you to one of the fabulous camps in Botswana.
Like to smell: The smell of the bush while on a game drive.
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)?
What I love about trade shows is that you stumble upon suppliers you have never heard of before. Apart from that, meeting friends and business partners is always great fun.
Everybody is tired of Zoom meetings so live trade shows will be even more important than they used to be.