My Tourism Journey, thus far

My Tourism Journey, thus far

 

Dear friends and business partners,

My 23yr long tourism journey through East Africa and the birth of SafariDMC

I was born in Kenya. After finishing university, I joined Abercrombie & Kent Kenya in February 1994 as a trainee Tour Officer and rose to a Senior Tour Consultant (then MD: Mr. Sam Mwaura). Because of my superior operations skills for my level, I was requested and relocated to Tanzania in 1999 and worked with Abercrombie & Kent Tanzania (then MD: Robert Daniel) as a Senior Tour Consultant and Trainer as well as Hotels & Lodges head of Sales & Reservations and assistant to the Marketing Manager for 2yrs. I returned to Kenya in 2011 (after the Sept 11 terrorist attacks in USA grounded worldwide tourism)  and worked again with Abercrombie & Kent Kenya for 5yrs until 2007 (MD: Mr. Peter Ngori).

I relocated to Tanzania again and worked some months with Leopard Tours (owner: Mr. Fazal), then back to Kenya with Maniago Safaris (then owners: Annabela & Duncan) for some months. In the same year, 2007, I relocated back to Tanzania working with The African Embassy Safaris, Hatari Lodge and Shu’mata Camp (owners: Marlies & Joerg) for just under 3yrs to January 2010. I relocated to Rwanda and worked as Group General Manager for Thousand Hills Expeditions’ Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda where for 3½yrs (owners: Jacqui & Manzi).  It was while in Rwanda that I started interacting with the western central African countries like Gabon, Central African Republic, Cameroon and Congo Brazzaville. I relocated to Uganda in August 2013 and took a post as Group General Manager of Great Lakes Safaris & Uganda Lodges (owner: Mr. Amos Wekesa) from August 2013 until July 2016.

It was a fantastic journey; I acquired a tonnes of Africa-wide tour operating experience, made so many wonderful friends and acquaintances that I keep to date, and curved a reputation for diligence, thoroughness and excellence. I also started having difficulties operation locally because I could no longer think locally. It was also clear to me that although many operators have fragmented the continent by borders due to lack of knowledge and appreciation, our international visitors see Africa as one destination not a multiplicity of small places. The key tourism attractions too are scattered across the continent without regard to borders and necessarily require cross border operation to be enjoyed fully; failure to do so makes operators push clients to stay in one location (their specialization) and only reluctantly assist with cross border tours. And when they do, they essentially use a different operator and duplicate mark ups. Outside Africa, in places like the UK, Germany and USA, there are tour operators who have taken the time to learn and now promote travel to the whole continent using a multiplicity of DMCs. It seemed strange that there were no such in Africa and saw it as the existing need to satisfy. I established Safari DMC Limited to do exactly that.

In practical terms, I together with local partners in each country registered independent companies in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya to allow us acquire local operator status. In Tanzania, we entered a formal profit sharing partnership with The African Embassy Safaris, owners of Hatari Lodge and Shu’mata Camp. In Angola, we launched a partnership with a local Angolan with whom we met earlier and have visited and educated myself about the destination. We contract the hotels, lodges and other suppliers directly and use a pool of carefully selected private label Driver/Guides and safari vehicles in much the same way as others on the ground. In Ethiopia, we did as in Angola but the partnership is informal however operate in the same manner i.e. business promotion (marketing) and profit sharing partnerships that enable us to invest softly and still sell like a local DMC without duplicating mark ups.

All the other countries are operated with local Tour Operators leveraging our wide reach and applying a very a small mark up to remain competitive. We are able to do this firstly because of our wide product knowledge and secondly we have registered businesses and partnerships as above. From an operational point of view, there is no other company with as wide a reach and capability as Safari DMC Limited except Abercrombie & Kent who however do not have an own company but instead use a local operator in Rwanda thereby duplicating their high mark ups.

In conclusion, we are small owner run and owner managed company but with intentions to grow to one of the biggest safari companies in Africa. And although our company is young, we are backed up by such extensive region-wide experience, integrity and great value proposition that we are incomparable with any other company including the big known brands.

Sincerely,
Andrew

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