Andrew McEwan was born in Zimbabwe but moved to South Africa as a young boy. Having had generational roots in the safari industry, Andrew was lucky to have grown up visiting some of Southern Africa’s wildest and most beautiful places.
Raised on a farm and schooled in a city, Andrew could truly embrace and appreciate the beauty of the small things that both diverse areas had to offer. The slower pace of the countryside and nature is where Andrew is happiest, which is why Andrew chose to settle in White River, Mpumalanga, which offers epic small town country living.
Andrew has been an active participant in the Travel industry since 1999, having been a professional guide in the Sabi Sands reserve for four years before starting his sales and marketing representation company, Africa In Focus, in 2005. The arrival of Covid in March 2020 and subsequent lockdowns have negatively impacted heavily on Andrew’s business as it has on every tourism business globally. Luckily passion, determination and steely resolve are attributes that Andrew shares with many other tourism stakeholders. He, along with them, looks forward to a better, brighter and more responsible tourism industry landscape moving forward.
Where did your love for travel start?
My love for travel started as soon as I can remember. I am the youngest of four kids, and our family holidays were always well planned by my folks and usually involved a long road trip from Zimbabwe to the Indian Ocean shores of South Africa. But my love for the travel industry was born as a teenager while being lucky enough to visit my sister and her husband, who were working at a lodge in the Sabi Sand Reserve at the time.
Why do you enjoy working in the industry?
Because travel experiences are the most valuable of life’s pleasures, it opens travellers up to different cultures, experiences and the souls of other countries. It’s a reminder for everyone that the world is so much bigger and more beautiful than just our home town or country of birth.
What is your favourite destination/place to visit and why?
My favourite destination or place to visit has to be the greater Lower Zambezi conservation areas of Zambia (Lower Zambezi National Park) and Zimbabwe (Mana Pools National Park). It truly is as close to heaven on earth for me as it gets. Its got the most beautiful soulful river, breathtaking escarpments in the distance, and offers the most ecologically diverse epic safari experience, in my opinion, with every land and water-based safari experience that you can think of on offer.
Tell us about one of your most memorable travel experiences and why it stands out.
A friend and I planned a Mozambique beach holiday to Vilanculos. There was an expensive scheduled flight from Johannesburg to Vilanculos, so we opted to save money and took a cheaper scheduled flight into Beira from Johannesburg. The flight arrived in the mid-afternoon. We realized that no busses or taxis were leaving to Volanculos till the following day, so we had an unexpected overnight in Beira and then took a minibus taxi to Vilanculos the next day. It took 7 hours to do 300 km, and I drew the short straw and had to sit on a broken seat. We still laugh till we are sore in the stomach about it today. Great memories made.
Give us a travel tip you don’t think anyone else gives.. or that isn’t given enough.
Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish when planning an African Safari or African holiday.
Based on the five senses and thinking about travelling, what do you…
Like to see: Turquoise Azure ocean waters with white sandy beaches.
Like to taste: A new favourite cocktail in a new country.
Like to feel: Excitement of the next day’s holiday adventure and unknown experiential treasures that it may hold.
Like to hear: The sound of a screaming reel on an epic far off fishing holiday adventure.
Like to smell: A wild, dry African safari landscape when it starts to rain.
Suggestions on resources for other travel and tourism stakeholders. Any websites, publications, podcasts, thought leaders you recommend, or newsletters we should sign up to?
I tend to search YouTube on destinations I’m planning to visit and what experiences that destination offers. Then reach out to someone with local knowledge who I resonate with from watching them on YouTube.
Tell us something about yourself that no one else knows.
I bunk work on Wednesday afternoons to play tennis.
Tell me more about your thoughts on trade shows and the combo of virtual and in-person conferences.
Trade shows are essential for the continual development and growth of the tourism business to any given destination. Although convenient and cost-saving, virtual trade shows can’t offer buyers from far off lands the opportunity of visiting countries and regions in person that they may be interested in selling to consumers. The world doesn’t stand still, so destinations are continuously evolving, and annual trade shows ensure that everyone’s offerings remain relevant and evolve with the consumers buying trends. That being said, I do think that buyers need to take more of a responsible approach in investing in their destination and product discovery and development. All too often and maybe as a generalization, hosted buyers use trade shows as a free ticket and trip out to a region and don’t make an effort to meet with a new product but fall back on relationship maintenance and being wined and dined. If buyers had to carry more of the cost of attending trade shows, they might use their time more wisely and productively. The buyers would then hopefully make more effort to develop new supply channels to suit the consumer better.