Africa Travel Week
Helen van Tonder Banner

Helen Van Tonder – Buyer & Research Manager RX Africa 

I think women are imaginative and have the ability to adapt to different situations.

Helen began her career selling advertising space at The Star Newspaper in Johannesburg and went on to work for The Citizen Newspaper and The Daily News in Durban.  After a few years working as an Executive PA, she finally found her niche and passion in the travel industry working for Motswari Game Reserve in the Timbavati; then Sales and Marketing Manager of Virgin’s Ulusaba Private Game Reserve and Sales and Marketing Manager of Djuma Game Reserve in the Sabi Sands Reserve.  

These positions took Helen all over the world to promote and sell luxury safaris to the travel industry and now finds absolute pleasure in researching, recruiting and working with top VIP Buyers for Africa Travel Week (WTM Africa and ILTM Africa). 

Tell us 3 words that you feel describe you well

motivated, organized, happy 

What kind of traveller are you?   

I am a curious traveller, immersing myself in experiences, a foodie for sure! 

Tell us about one of your most memorable trips/travel moments. Where and why?  

I had the opportunity of travelling from Perth to Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane Australia – the absolute vastness and beauty of the country took my breath away and seeing animal species we don’t have in Africa was an incredible experience. 

What is your all-time favourite destination in Africa? Why? 

I spent many years selling and marketing 5 Star Safari Lodges in the Sabi Sands Reserve –the Sabi Sands is definitely my favourite destination in Africa. 

Based on the five senses and thinking about travelling what do you…   

  • Like to see:   I like to explore markets, historic sites, flora and fauna in different places  
  • Like to taste:   Everything, from a patisserie in Paris to the giant Steaks in Argentina – I have loved them all! 
  • Like to feel: I love the feeling of waves crashing into me and being swept towards the beach 
  • Like to hear: The sound of a hyaena whooping in the night. 
  • Like to Smell:  On my bucket list – the smell of spices in one of the Souks in Morocco 

What unique qualities do you believe women bring to the workplace?   

I think women are imaginative and have the ability to adapt to different situations, I think this and the ability to multi-task are valuable qualities they bring to the workplace. 

Tell us about something you’re proud of achieving

Having an interesting career that took me away from home whilst travelling nationally and internationally while raising successful children is what I am most proud of achieving. 

Tell us about one woman in business that you admire 

There are two women that I admire – the one has to be Carol Weaving our Managing Director.  She is the most positive, inspiring person I have ever worked for.   

And Megan de Jager our Portfolio Director who has taught me the value of sincere kindness in the workplace and pushes our team to deliver their best work.   

Africa Travel Week

Africa Travel Week (ATW) focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology. Shows include: ILTM Africa, WTM Africa, EQUAL Africa, ibtm AFRICA, Travel Forward, Sports & Events Tourism Exchange and African Tourism Investment Summit.