Rick Carassai is the remote Product Development Director of Bamba Travel & Baboo, two international travel companies that focus on B2B & B2C travel. He admits that travelling has been part of his life since he finished school and he had the urge to discover what more there was out there in the world. With no experience but plenty of big dreams, he set out on a non-stop backpacking adventure for 12+ years. Now, thanks to his work, he still travels several times a year, filling his heart by discovering new and amazing places that he might have never reached as a backpacker.
How did you fall in love with travelling or start working within the industry as a career?
I studied tourism as I was passionate about “applicable” languages. Growing up in a small city in Italy I had never really travelled but dreamt of setting off since I was just 6 years old. Once I finished school I left for the cheapest place I could fly to… Barcelona. After spending a year helping to manage a hostel there I had learned that I knew absolutely nothing of the world, that what I thought I knew was debatable and most importantly there is no such thing as the TRUTH as it variates from place to place, and that’s when the dream of travelling became a lifestyle. Worked in hostels & bars around Europe for another couple of years before deciding to move to Latin America where my languages and skills were given the chance to grow, as I walked many different paths of the travel industry, and life.
What kind of traveller are you?
On my own, I was definitely a nomad that lived on bare necessities and only planned the next transportation. As a father, I started to also organize accommodation and return flight.
Tell us about one of your most memorable trips/travel moments. Where and why?
I have so many. One of my top memories come from living in the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle. I went there as a volunteer school teacher and left almost 2 years later as an amazon jungle guide. In the last place I lived, I was sharing the space with 2 monkeys, 1 cat, 3 dogs and 2 Uruguayan siblings. That was the unique family I had the fortune to share my life with.
What lessons have you learnt from your experience during COVID – both personally and in your business?
Personally, it confirmed to me that sustainability and self-sufficiency ARE the way to move forward. In business, I always believed tourism would never get to a halt, as even after other pandemics or even terrorist attacks it never really stopped. COVID taught us about the vulnerability of the system and that we need to be more organized to be prepared at the possibility of another storm.
How confident are you that the travel and tourism industry in Africa (especially South Africa) will survive & prosper over the next 2-3 years?
The African community is strong and resilient. Travelling cannot be stopped, regulation will take place and I bet in 2 or 3 years we will remember COVID’s time as we remember the nightmare.
What do we need to do to make sure that happens?
We need the governments to become real in regards to the whole Covid situation and help those people affected by the pandemic in restarting as the travel-ban put so many people in bankrupt.
Based on the five senses and thinking about travelling what do you…
- Like to see: A place I have never seen or dreamt to see.
- Like to taste: A delicious freshly made green Thai curry.
- Like to feel: A hug from my international community.
- Like to hear: the sound of the rainforest.
- Like to smell: the air as I travel a place I have never set foot on before.
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)?
WTM has been a great show, full of great companies. This year of virtual travel shows did open us to the possibility to participate in more events than any other year. But truth is, without the one-to-one in-person meetings, the networking didn’t feel much different than researching companies and contacting them via email. That said, I am looking forward to attending travel shows and travelling and getting to know the locations we are selling.