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Southern Africa’s Travel News Weekly

October 28 2009 I No. 2081







manage your risk

Mary Wilkinson

Asata launches voice recording

30 years in travel!

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Tantalising Thailand

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Island-style adventures

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More visa nightmares W

HEN embassies start advising applicants that their visas could take up to 25 working days or longer, agents know they have a problem. Inconsistent rules around visa applications and bureaucratic red tape are jeopardising the level of efficient service agents can deliver, costing their clients thousands. Several embassies have come under fire from agents, but Angola and Nigeria have been highlighted as the most difficult to deal with. “When I hear the words Angolan visas mentioned, I shudder. I have had many clients cancel their meetings due to their visas not being ready on time. My last client’s visa took a month,” says Carol Hudson, consultant at Grindrod Travel, Durban. Angelina Mendes, consultant at Sandown Travel, says: “We have businessmen who need to go to Angola for emergencies. They supply these countries with expertise! If they don’t want us to help them, then why open an embassy in South Africa?” Anton Schavemaker from Visa Express said without the exact information needed, agents would battle to get their clients’ Angolan visas. “If they (the Angolan embassy) do not like the courier they will

give you a hard time.” “As a travel management company, our job is to make our clients’ travel as simple and drama-free as possible,” says Rachael Penaluna, sales executive at Sure Corporate Bleeker Travel. “We charge service fees and now more than ever, need to be efficient, professional, more knowledgeable, faster, always available and ‘make it happen’ against all odds.” Rachael submitted two visa applications to the Angolan embassy and received one back after two weeks. After five weeks, she still had not received the application for the second traveller, despite both clients working for the same company and going on the same trip to Angola. “We pulled the passport sans visa, having paid for it. My clients had to cancel their business trip – one less deal has been concluded between Angola and SA,” she said. There are similar complaints about the Nigerian embassy and more specifically the recently imposed repatriation fee of R6 000 for firsttime applicants (see TNW September 23). Applicants may, but are not guaranteed to, receive their deposits back if they provide the original deposit slip to the Nigerian embassy. “A first-time applicant’s visa is going to cost around

R8 200, including courier and handling fees. Where is the incentive to visit these countries? Africa is growing.  We want to be where the business is but it is increasingly difficult when we are up against embassies that make it difficult for our clients to get there in the first place!” says Rachael. These visa difficulties come as SA president Jacob Zuma visited Angola to strengthen trade between Angola and South Africa. Both the Angolan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Business Unity of SA have called on their governments to address visa concerns but the issues have yet to be addressed. Repeated attempts made by TNW to contact the respective embassies were fruitless. An hour-long wait at the Nigerian consulate in Johannesburg resulted in an official confirming a media officer was based “somewhere in the building” but refusing to give TNW a direct contact. Home Affairs’ Ronnie Mamoepa, said in response to a query about the Nigerian repatriation fee, the decision was due to “reciprocity”. “They are doing to us what we do to them. We can’t tell them (Angola and Nigeria) how to run their embassies, just as they can’t tell us how to run ours,” he said. ■

Go big, or go home! It’s so big you could play a football match in it. That’s the word from Europcar on the launch of its flagship airport branch this month with a new queuing system to decrease customers’ time in the kiosk. The floor space has been increased to accommodate hundreds of trolleys. Says sales director Martin Lydall: “Europcar is doing everything it possibly can to make sure its customers are not inconvenienced by delays. Our new design, which will be rolled out across all major airport branches, aims to offer the industry’s quickest transaction time. Pictured here with their eye on the ball (from left) are Anne-Maria Haigh, key account manager; Lebo Mncube, database administrator; Gavin Slater, account manager and Sylvia Mohale, sales co-ordinator Photo: Tijana Huysamen

BA chips in for UK visa costs Jeanette Phillips BRITISH Airways says it will aid passengers with their UK visa costs when they book and pay by November 15 for travel until March 31 to Europe. World Traveller and World Traveller Plus passengers to specified European destinations will be offered a discount of R655 of the

“Get in, get out, get going... with Fastbreak.” Because time is money, we’ve designed a quick, easy way for your corporate customers to get going - fast! It’s so simple - they simply produce their Fastbreak voucher and we’ll hand over the keys - no forms, no hassle, no fuss. Fastbreak, the fastest way to rent a vehicle. Terms and conditions apply TNW3623SD

airfare to use towards a transit visa. Club World and firstclass passengers travelling to certain European destinations will receive a discount of R3 010 (two-year visa). Valid destinations include Paris, Amsterdam, Zurich, Brussels, Lisbon, Athens, Frankfurt, Rome, Nice, Geneva, Barcelona, Prague, Munich and Copenhagen. ■


Melody Brandon

086 101 66 22


Manage your risk Natasha Tippel


SATA has introduced another new initiative to help travel agencies manage their risk – a telephone voice recording system. “The economic downturn has alerted business owners to the concept that managing risk is possibly the most efficient way of cutting costs,” says ceo of Asata, Robyn Christie. “Particularly in the travel industry, bookings are requested, costs are quoted and instructions given by our customers to execute telephonically. Often these verbal bookings, quotes and instructions come back to bite us and information is misconstrued. The Asata member is frequently left


having to absorb the price differential or merely having to fund the cost of restoring a relationship.” The new system, which was launched on October 2, is managed by Smith Communications Consultants (SCC), which installs voice recording devices on the

“Often bookings, quotes and instructions come back to bite us” agency’s existing telephone system. Pricing is dependent on the number of lines the company’s infrastructure supports. For example, a four-port Voice Recording Box is R7 190 while an eightport Voice Recording Box is R10 800, excluding VAT and

installation. Installation is dependent on the number of lines but estimated at R200 per port. In South African law it is required that companies advise their callers that their call may be recorded and within the ambit of the new Consumer Protection law that will be in effect in the third quarter of 2010, this system will be invaluable to a business owner, says Robyn. “A voice recording is believable; there is no denying the spoken word whether it is your employee, your supplier or your customer.” If members are interested in receiving a call from SCC, please advise by emailing your interest and to whom the call should be directed to ■

“Now listen up! You both know the rules, you’ve got equal portions, and we’re going to settle this thing once and for all. ... On your mark.. get set...”


Published by Lugan Investments (Pty) Ltd trading as Now Media Printed by Juka Printing (Pty) Ltd Phone: (011) 327-4062 Fax: (011) 327-4094 E-mail: Web: Address: Now Media Centre, 32 Fricker Road, Illovo Boulevard, Illovo, Johannesburg. PO Box 55251, Northlands, 2116, South Africa.

EDITORAL Editor: Natalia Thomson Sub­-Editor: Ann Braun Cape Town Editor: Hilka Birns Journalists: Jeanette Phillips Natasha Tippel Melody Brandon Photo Journalist: Tijana Huysamen Founding Editors: John H Marsh (1914-1996) Leona Marsh (1923-2003) ADVERTISING Sales Manager Kate Nathan Advertising Coordinator: Lana Sachs PRODUCTION Design Head: Brendon Bester TNW3630SD

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UK visas – no end in sight Melody Brandon


What you had to say:

● “Get real South Africa – it’s time our government woke up and started doing their jobs. Get rid of people that are

not interested in doing the jobs they are employed to do, put a stop to all the corruption regarding IDs and passports. Perhaps only then, will it be possible to re-negotiate with other countries. Until that time, you might as well live with the visa restrictions and hope that other countries will still want us to enter their country in the future.” Anonymous ● “The South African Department of Home Affairs has been proven to be corrupt on so many occasions.” Tony Borg Sure Non-Stop Travel, Durban ● “Until we sort out our border policy and stop the influx of Zimbabwean, Nigerian and other refugees and address the passport fraud, there is no point.” Larry Ridler Travel Focus, Montagu ■

● The Royal Villas Hotel – Swaziland is offering a special New Year rate of R4 500 for a standard twin room. The rate includes six nights’ accommodation, breakfast, a New Year’s Eve buffet and entrance to ‘House on Fire’ New Year’s Eve bash with a shuttle to and from the event. Get the seventh night’s accommodation free. Valid from December 28 to January 2. ● Naïade Holidays – 35% ‘Early Bird’ savings for Mauritius from R15 950 and Réunion from R9 550. Rates are per person sharing. Rates include return flights ex-Johannesburg, return transfers, seven nights’ accommodation, dinner and breakfast (Tamassa is all-inclusive) or breakfast daily at the Hotel Le Recif. Mauritius clients qualify for a free full-day excursion to the Ile des Deux Cocos. All rates exclude taxes. Valid until April 30. Specials to Maldives are also available. ● Animaltracks Islandventures is offering a special rate at Madagascar Sakatia Lodge from R8 560 per person. Includes return flights ex-Johannesburg, return transfers, seven nights’ accommodation with dinner and breakfast, half-day island trekking and a snorkelling excursion. Valid to November 30. Excludes taxes. Free visas will be issued until December 31.

Speciaotls Sp


OUTH African passport holders hoping for a reprieve from applying for a UK visa are going to be disappointed. The South African government has said it will not approach the UK government to renegotiate visa restrictions until Home Affairs is “standing on firm ground” and few have hope of that happening any time soon. UK visa requirements were enforced earlier this year due to concerns over stolen and forged South African passports. Addressing parliament recently, Home Affairs minister, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, said the UK had introduced the visa and therefore only the UK government could revoke it. “There were objective and subjective reasons the UK introduced this visa requirement. Until we are

satisfied we have addressed all the objective reasons, it would not make sense for us to go back to the UK to try and renegotiate. We should know that we are standing on firm ground by the time we go to them,” she said. The minister said there were passport issues with which the South African government did not agree, which may hinder negotiations with the British. “There are people who got into the UK on fraudulent SA passports about 15 years ago. “When they find these people they want to return them to South Africa. Now I am not about to agree to that. We can discuss it with them,” she said.

Travelinfo,s Michele Reynolds selects the top specials from Travelinfo

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Come stay and play at Africa’s leading casino resort 2009 may be winding down, but with Emperors Palace, you can end it on a high note. Conveniently located next to OR Tambo International Airport and voted Africa’s leading casino resort in South Africa and Africa’s best convention and conference venue for 3 years running, we’ll stretch any budget with our unbeatable value packages! Emperors Palace offers you a wide selection of superior function venues and an equally inspired choice of outstanding restaurants offering Asian, Italian, Greek, Indian, African and continental cuisine. Plus, our newly-renovated Entertainment Emporium will boast six state-of-the-art NuMetro cinemas as of December 2009. Relax in comfort and safety at one of our four awardwinning resort hotels. These include the classical 5-star Peermont D’oreale Grande Hotel, the generous 4-star Peermont Mondior Hotel, the new 3-star Peermont Metcourt Suites and the chic new 3-star Peermont Metcourt Hotel. Only Emperors Palace offers you world-class conferencing, hotels, gaming, entertainment and dining - all in one extraordinary setting.


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Linda Dempster clears up the myths around refunds …


HERE are many misperceptions around the issue of refunds. Years ago, agents were very excited when they were given the tools to process their own refunds through the GDSs. These same GDS providers offered courses on how to process a refund online, but how many consultants actually attended this training? Or how many simply sat back and said: “My BSP lady will do the refunds as she has always done. Let’s go one step even better and give our BSP people their own sign-on codes!” The first myth I would like to dispel is: “When I process a refund in my GDS I cannot get an ADM.” The truth is you can get an ADM as these are no different to the manual handwritten refunds we used to do: The blue ones in the case of a cash ticket and the green ones in the case of a credit card ticket. We used to send these with our paper tickets to BSP and when the airlines checked them and were unhappy we would get an ADM. The same still applies; when the airline checks the refunds done through the GDS they can still ADM you.

The next myth is: “If I see the refunds on my daily sales report (TINS) that means we, my client and I, will get the refund.” Again, this is not true. There are some refunds which never appear on the billing. And here’s another myth: “If I refund a non-refundable ticket through the GDS I will get my money back.” This is true, however an ADM will follow soon after. Nonrefundable tickets are just that, non-refundable! The airport taxes however are refundable and should be done through BSP Link. And finally: “I cannot get an ADM if the refund has been processed though BSP Link.” This is absolutely true. When that refund appears on the billing it means that the airline has processed it and given you back the money. They cannot ADM you after they have done the calculation. Bottom line is when we are processing a refund we must keep in mind that we are giving away airline money so you cannot be too careful. Linda’s tip: When in any doubt, do the refund through BSP Link. ■

to the point

n’ ‘all i ut all o ies part m o fr Terms

Use BSP Link for refunds

● Eurostar has launched ‘Trip Planner’, an interactive online tool on, allowing travellers to create their own personalised itineraries. The service provides information on Paris and London to first-time visitors as well as appealing to regular visitors. It gives visitors information on hotels, restaurants, bars, activities and sights. Using the tool, visitors can also create itineraries according to their interests or choose from set itineraries loaded on the site. Travellers can print these, including a map of the chosen venues and vital information such as opening hours, nearest public transport and weather forecasts.

15 on Orange to open in Cape Town in December Hilka Birns

For bookings and details contact: EMPERORS PALACE SALES: Tel: +27 (0)11 928 1055 | Fax: +27 (0)11 928 1551 E-Mail: | Website:

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CUTTING-edge design and quality of finishes will set the R500m 15 on Orange Hotel apart from its five-star rivals when it opens in Cape Town’s CBD on December 1. This is the view of gm Douglas Allen (previously gm of Protea Melrose Arch), who gave TNW an exclusive pre-opening tour of the facility. The hotel is part of Protea’s African Pride portfolio and owned by the Newcity Group. Lovers of contemporary design will delight in the hotel’s clean lines and bespoke fittings. The 24-hour Judges lounge has

an open-flame fireplace, a white snooker table and a small law library. Next to the Murano Bar is a private dining room for 10 people. Other amenities include conference rooms, a spa and a rooftop pool deck. Central to the hotel is a seven-storey internal atrium housing the ‘Savour’ restaurant, ‘Cinnamon’ coffee shop and the business centre. The 130 suites, measuring up to 70sqm, feature custommade wallpaper, king-size beds, the best linen and understated styling. Highlights in the en-suite bathrooms are the backlit onyx basins that function as nightlights. ■


6 n Wednesday October 28 2009



Fancy a Namibian holiday?

LH to relaunch inflight Internet

LUFTHANSA plans to relaunch, FlyNet, its on-board broadband Internet service, from the middle of next year. In addition, the new service will permit in-flight data transfer over standard GSM/GPRS mobile networks. With FlyNet, passengers will soon not only have WLAN Internet access, but will also be able to send SMS messages with mobile phones and transfer data via smartphone such as iPhone or Blackberry devices.

Jeanette Phillips


HE Namibia Tourism Board (NTB), in conjunction with Air Namibia has introduced its Namibia 2010 campaign, running until December 18. The campaign aims to emphasise why the SA market should consider visiting the destination in the coming year. Aspects such as location, activities, visa requirements for SA citizens, foreign currency and interesting travel tips will be covered during the campaign. Also keep an eye out for a Namibian insert arriving in November in TNW. To celebrate this exciting campaign, NTB and Air Namibia are running an incentive for the trade, where one lucky winner can win a holiday to Namibia. The prize will include return flights on Air Namibia, four nights’ accommodation, five days’ car hire as well sightseeing activities for two people. Two winners will be drawn on November 15 and December 15 and will each win a hamper of Namibian goodies, including its famous beer, biltong and other interesting items. The main prizewinner will be drawn in January and the holiday must be completed before the end of December 2010.


LAM to introduce JNB/LAD flights

FROM November 16, LAM Mozambique Airlines will operate from JNB to Luanda, Angola, via Maputo. The service will operate from Monday to Friday, departing Johannesburg at 08h40 and arriving in Maputo at 09h40. It departs Maputo at 11h00, arriving in Luanda at 13h40. The return service departs Luanda at 14h40, arriving in Maputo at 19h10. It departs Maputo at 07h00 next morning, arriving in JNB at 08h00. LAM is offering one night’s free accommodation in Maputo and fares are from R1 440, excl taxes.

QR launches Amritsar flights

We’re ready for 2010! Pictured here rooting for you to win are (from left) Namibia Tourism’s Chantal Matthee, manager Johannesburg; Esmari Leeuwner, sales and marketing; and Werner Schutte, sales and marketing Photo: Tijana Huysamen To qualify for the prize, for each trip sold to Namibia, the travel trade should forward the details of that journey, along with their contact details and company to NTB by sending an email to The trade can enter as many times as they like, provided each entry is for a different trip to Namibia.

to the point

Entries must be valid for travel packages booked and paid for from October 1-December 18. Winners will be chosen by lucky draw, so the more entries per person, the better chance of walking away with the prize. For details on how to enter, visit Namibia Tourism’s Travelinfo pages. ■

● Maropeng has launched a new fossil display entitled ‘Evolution: digging for an understanding’. The exhibition, which runs until the end of November, illustrates and explains Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Also included are a number of significant pieces of fossil evidence and modern anatomical evidence, which begin with a 100-year-old copy of Darwin’s book opened on the page showing his explanation of a family tree.

QATAR Airways launched its flights to Amritsar, India, on October 12 – making it the only full-service scheduled global airline operating to the city. Qatar Airways says passengers flying from North America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East to Doha have excellent onward late-evening connections to Amritsar. The airline is operating the route four times a week non-stop from Doha using an A320 with 12 seats in business class and 132 seats in economy class. Flights depart Doha on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 21h40, arriving in Amritsar at 03h55 the following day. The return service departs Amritsar on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 04h55, arriving in Doha at 06h15

Iata suspends Bellview from BSP

IATA has confirmed that it has suspended Bellview Airlines, with immediate effect from the association’s clearing house. In a notice sent out by Iata, Billing Settlement Plan (BSP) participants and all accredited travel agents were informed that all ticketing with the airline should stop immediately. In a statement to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority Iata said: “We would like to inform you that Iata has suspended Bellview Airlines (B3-208)  with immediate effect, as the airline has ceased operations. The suspension from the BSP is in accordance with the provisions in Resolution 850 Attachment F. “BSP travel agents should stop immediately all ticketing and refund transactions through the GDSs and BSP Link and continue to remit funds to the BSP.” According to media reports the airline has suspended operations citing lack of aircraft and other challenges. The airline said it was trying to restructure and that it would “bounce” back in November when six new aircraft would be delivered.


QUICK READ FOR busiest people

Wednesday October 28 2009 n 7


to the point

☞ Take a coach tour with Travcorp

● Knysna Tourism has launched a new development website,, for local community products and experiences. The site contains information on all community experiences such as township tours, homestays, dining and arts and crafts. Each member has his or her own dedicated web page that describes the enterprise in detail. Information on what guests can expect to see and experience, directions to the particular business as well as price lists are also available.

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RAVCORP is offering agents and their partners escorted coach tours from any of its companies’ destinations, for up to four days at very low rates. “An escorted coach tour is the only holiday style that gives our clients the true depth of the destination, travelling with ease and comfort in a fashion unsurpassed by other holiday types. All the hassles are taken care of and many excursions are included.  Not only that but they’ll visit places far from distant ports or inconvenient rail routes with time to enjoy, day and at night!” said Travcorp SA md, Theresa Szejwallo. Theresa said it was hoped the initiative would give agents and their partners a personal taste of coach touring with

popular brands: Trafalgar, Insight Vacations, Contiki, AAT Kings, Thompsons Touring and Radical Travel. The tours can be joined anywhere on the itinerary so agents need not start or finish on the first or the last day of the tour. The costs (coach tour only) are R750 per person per day on a Trafalgar, Insight Vacations, AAT Kings and Thompsons tour, R400 on a Contiki Time Out tour, R200 on a Contiki Camping or Concept tour and just R100 on Radical Travel.  “This means agents can now sample a coach tour in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, USA and Canada, Mexico, South America, Britain, Europe and Eastern Mediterranean on any date they like, so long as there is availability,” said Theresa. ■

Air Namibia grows regional routes Melody Brandon


IR Namibia has begun an aggressive regional route expansion programme beginning with the launch of fifth freedom rights to fly from Windhoek to Lusaka via Johannesburg. “The introduction of the Lusaka route is in line with Air Namibia’s business plan, adopted in 2007 to consolidate and rationalise the existing route network,” said Air Namibia corporate communications and marketing manager, Hellena Kapiya-Nathinge. She said the airline aimed to grow by participating in the open skies initiative on the continent. “The route is part of the contribution by Air Namibia to realise the SADC vision of contributing towards regional economic development,” she said. Xavier Masule, Air Namibia business development manager, said: “The agreement was easy to conclude with the South African government. While African countries may preach about open skies, SA actively participates. They are far more proactive than others.” The airline expects to conclude another fifth

freedom agreement by the end of the year and another three in 2010, details of which are not yet available. “We are looking at three other countries and are in the advanced stages of negotiations. The routes may or may not include South Africa,” Xavier said.

Profit margins improving

The airline reported a significant increase in profit margins, despite recent fuel hikes and the economic slowdown. “Both our passenger and cargo numbers are doing well. Our best routes include Angola, Cape Town and Rwanda,” Xavier said, adding that although the airline had to cut its London route, its flights to Frankfurt were faring well. “We are monitoring our numbers and if demand increases, will look at reinstating our London route, however we do not anticipate this will be in the next 12 months,” he said. The airline’s main strategy at the moment is to expand in Africas “We have a lot of excess capacity and aircraft that are on the ground 50% of the time. We need to optimise our aircraft and our expansion programme will achieve this.”

What agents need to know:


8 n Wednesday October 28 2009

Flights operate Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays Saturdays and Sundays, with codeshare partner, Zambezi Airlines: ● Depart Windhoek 08h10 arrive Johannesburg 09h55 ● Depart Johannesburg 11h40 arrive Lusaka 13h40 ● Depart Lusaka 14h40 arrive Johannesburg 16h40 ● Depart Johannesburg 18h30 arrive Windhoek 20h30 You can book online at Air Namibia offers 7% commission on flights. ■ QUICK READ FOR DECISION-MAKERS


A brief look at this week's hotel news

Davison’s Camp joins Safari & Adventure Co.

SAFARI & Adventure Co. has announced the addition of Davison’s Camp in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, to its portfolio. The camp is within easy distance, by road or air, of the Victoria Falls. The Linkwasha Concession, in which Davison’s Camp is located, offers a mix of diverse habitats and wildlife. The camp consists of nine twin-bedded tents, is open year round and can accommodate children of six years and older. The tents and the main area, comprising lounge, dining room, and open campfire area, all overlook the waterhole. Mozambique will have a truly five-star hotel once the renovations are complete

Polana returns to former glory Liesl Venter


OZAMBIQUE’S ‘grande dame’, the Polana Serena Hotel, is not only getting a much needed facelift, but is also stepping into the 21st century. Gm, Karim Merali, says the refurbishment process, which started in January this year, will be completed no later than mid-2010, before the second phase of renovations kicks off. These will be finished by the end of next year and when the dust finally settles Mozambique will have

a truly five-star hotel. “The building was in much need of renovation and it was also time to upgrade facilities and contribute towards raising the standards of quality on offer in Mozambique,” says Karim. “On completion we will have a new health club and spa as well as conference centre of international standard.” He said: We do not want to change the beauty of the Polana Serena and the outside façade will be as distinctive as ever. During these renovations we will be bringing back the ballroom to

its former glory and it will be a magnificent venue for big events.” Modernisation will cost an estimated US$30m (R218m) and the hotel will be able to cater for its international business travellers on all levels. This includes more restaurants and modern rooms with all the amenities needed for the virtual office. The 280-sqm pool will still be a sparkling attraction. ■

African Sun acquires first Zambian property

AFRICAN Sun Limited has recently acquired the Royal Chundu Zambezi River Lodge in Zambia, the first five-star luxury lodge in its portfolio. The lodge is situated on the Livingstone side of the Victoria Falls and features 14 rooms. Activities include bird watching, canoe trips, game viewing and fishing as well as tours to the nearby Katambora Tribal Village. There is an infinity swimming pool on the mainland and private plunge pools on the island. A de-luxe spa will also be available. Royal Chundu Zambezi River Lodge is expected to open on November 15 after refurbishments.

Three Cities ups room numbers by over 500

THE Three Cities Group has increased its room capacity by over 500 rooms in an agreement with Queensgate Hotel & Leisure that will see it take over the management of Tinga Private Game Lodge, Park Inn, Hollow on the Square, Cape Town Hollow Boutique, Rockwell All Suite Hotel, Shelley Point Hotel Country Club and Spa, The Avenue Hotel and The Alphen Hotel. The deal, say the two companies, will operate on a fee-sharing basis.

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Mary and Laurie, a formidable team Melody Brandon


HERE are few couples that would be able to work together in such a fast-paced industry as travel, but Laurie and Mary Wilkinson are the exception to the rule. Laurie, president of Asata, has been in the limelight for years and Mary, who has 36 years’ experience in travel, is well known in the industry. “I wanted to travel and at 17 could not afford the prices, so I applied to work at a travel agency,” she explains. After working for American Express, Mary moved to AATB (a Pretoria-based agency) and then bought her own agency. “I met Laurie through work years before we met again. We were business partners before we became partners in life!” she says. After Laurie joined Mary’s business, the pair rebranded their business as Travel Studio and joined the Sure Travel group. The rest, as they say, is history and years later, Mary is still enjoying her dream of travel. “I enjoy having Laurie as my partner and having him around. It’s always a pleasure coming to work but it’s even better when we are off on a trip or just at home.”

Q&A What do you enjoy about travel?

Planning and organising, and how everything changes. We still meet the deadlines and expectations! I also enjoy the people who come into our lives as a result.  

Tell us a bit about yourself

I love having my family and friends around me and spending time with them. If I have a mad day at the office I just open the window and listen to the nursery school screams and laughter next to the office. That’s my pill.    

What might others not know about you?

Mary Wilkinson has more than 30 years’ experience in the travel industry and isn’t planning on stopping any time soon!

Worst travel memory?

An incentive trip we had booked for 100 people for a cruise in the Mediterranean and the airline lost all their luggage.   

Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years? Still travelling the world.  

There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who take nonsense, and those who don’t. I know which one I am.   

Your life motto?

Each memory is great but travelling in Italy and a cruise from Singapore to Phuket are among my best.

Keeping us updated with all the relevant travel trade information.  

Best travel memory?

Give your best to everything you do. Have respect for the people you meet and if not just walk away.  

What do you enjoy about TNW?

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10 n Wednesday October 28 2009


Thailand Tantalising Thailand


hailand is already uppermost in the minds of many South African travellers, but for most, their initial contact with this southeast Asian paradise will be Bangkok, Phuket and Krabi. Fortunately for Thai fans there’s plenty more to see – the more adventurous can head for the northern tourism hotspots of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, while for those seeking that all-important island-style experience, Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan are an absolute must.

Koh Samui

Suggest an island-style adventure on Thailand’s east coast to the beautiful island of Koh Samui, the third largest, located just 700km south of Bangkok and a short one-hour flight. Easing visitors into the island way of life, Koh Samui is small enough to get around in a few hours on a scooter, but large enough to keep travellers interested for days. The best way to explore this island is by scooter, which can be rented at the resort for about 80 baht (R20) a day. Highlights: ● A visit to Chaweng Beach (east coast): This is the main area on the island for nightlife where visitors can enjoy a meal at a range of beach-front restaurants, including the Chaweng Regent, catch a lady-boy (transvestite) show and spend the evening shopping at the flea market. ● Wat Phra Yai (Big Buddha): Sitting 12m tall this golden Buddha statue is a magnificent landmark. ● Fisherman’s Village: a quaint waterfront area with a range of shops and eateries where visitors can spend the day relaxing in true Thai style. ● Namuang Safari Park offers a range of activities such as elephant trekking, monkey shows and a snake show. Visitors can also see the 80m-high Ta Nim Waterfall and Magic Garden nearby. ● Wat Khunaram houses the mummified remains of a Buddhist monk, Loung Por Ruam. Admission to the temple is free. ● Dinner at the Pavilion Samui Boutique Resort’s The Patio restaurant located on Lamai Beach offers authentic Thai and Italian dishes. The area also has a vibrant nightlife. Spend the afternoon learning to cook traditional Thai dishes. ● Stay at the beautiful Melati Beach Resort and Spa, on the north-eastern edge of the island, offering luxury beachfront accommodation in private pool villas. QUICK READ FOR busiest people

Join TNW’s Natalia Thomson as she savours its serenity...

Koh Tao

It’s just a brief two-hour ferry ride to the most northern island in the archipelago, Koh Tao, with its boulder-rich landscape. For incredible views, water sports, snorkelling and scuba diving, Koh Tao is hard to beat. The island is a little more difficult to get around by scooter due to its hilly landscape but has many tucked away rustic rest spots where weary travellers can laze in a hammock or munch a traditional Thai stir fry. Highlights: ● An evening Thai massage at Chamchuree Resort’s cliff-top spa. Besides the massage being so good visitors will want to go back for more, the idyllic cliff-top location overlooking the turquoise sea will leave them feeling serene. Thereafter suggest Chamchuree’s Chaba & Starlight Restaurant, which offers a magnificent view over the whole bay, especially at sunset. ● Dive sites include Shark Island with its soft corals, Hin Wong Pinnacle, White Rock and Sail Rock, offering visibility up to 35m. ● Nearby Koh Nang Yuan, comprising three small islands connected by a white sandbar. Snorkellers will revel in the beautiful coral displays. ● Afternoon cocktails at Nangyuan Terrace where your clients will have wonderful views of Koh Nang Yuan while soaking up the relaxed ambience.

t! Seaview Patong in Phuket, Thailand for seven nights i k o Far East Tours is offering a honeymoon special to the


from R14 134pp, including flights ex-JNB, taxes, transfers and a romantic dinner. Far East is also offering a seven-night honeymoon special to Kala, Samui from R18 560pp, including flights ex-JNB, taxes, transfers, a champagne breakfast, spa treatments, a boat excursion and lunch. Offers are valid until October 31, 2010 with season changes.

Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan is a short 30-minute speedboat ride from Koh Samui. The island has always been a spiritual place for the Thai people and is almost entirely covered by unspoilt tropical forest. It is also a wonderful base for scuba divers and snorkellers, as well as being close to the Angthong Marine Park. Highlights: ● Diving and snorkelling at one of the diving hotspots, including Koh Ma (linked to Koh Phangan by a sandbar) and Sail Rock (arguably one of the most famous dive sites in the Gulf of Thailand). ● Phangan Safari offers full- and half-day tours including elephant trekking, jungle trekking and visits to the Chinese Temple. ● Sunset dinners on the beach of Santhiya Resort and Spa’s By The Sea & Bar restaurant with its authentic Thai cuisine while listening to the sound of crashing waves. ● A relaxing spa treatment at the Panviman Resort’s Viman Spa offering such treatments as a Thai Herbal Massage and Aromatherapy reflexology. The spa is set on a hill overlooking the bay with its traditional fishing boats.

Detox on Koh Samui The Pavilion Hotel, located on Koh Samui’s Lamai Beach on the east coast of the island, is offering a special health detox programme for guests. The resort’s Spavilion combines special spa treatments with healthy eating and relaxation, guaranteed to detox the body, mind and soul. On offer are an Oasis of Love honeymoon package and a three-day health detox plan with activities, a special detox diet and spa programme. A special health detox menu plan has also been developed by the resort for guests Wednesday October 28 2009 n 11

Fast facts

Visitors can learn the art of traditional Thai cooking

Banyan Tree Bangkok unveils family suites


ANYAN Tree Bangkok, located in the central business district on South Sathon Road, has launched its one- and two-bedroom suites for business travellers and their families. Included in the upgrades were the new Banyan Tree Club Rooms with views of the Chao Phraya River or the city. This brings to 327 the number of rooms and suites available in 2010. The new suites have a kitchenette and a large living area. In addition to the master bedroom, the two-bedroom suite also has a twin bedroom with en-suite bathroom.

● South Africans do not require a visa. ● Thailand is five hours ahead of South Africa. ● E nglish is generally not widely spoken. ● Currency: 100 baht = R25 ●H  igh-speed WiFi Internet is available in most resorts. ●G  etting there: Thai Airways no longer offers a direct flight from JNB to Bangkok, but many other airlines offer flights with good connections, including Singapore Airlines (via Singapore), Malaysia Airlines (via Kuala Lumpur) and Cathay Pacific (via Hong Kong). Kenya Airways offers a good connection via Nairobi with three flights a day from JNB to the Kenyan capital (four-hour flight), followed by a six-hour flight to Bangkok. ●G  etting around: Flights between Bangkok and the Gulf of Thailand are offered by Bangkok Airways. Ferries between the mainland and archipelago are also available. Thai Airways has an extensive domestic and regional network. Tuk Tuks, taxis and scooters are the best ways of getting around the islands.

es! Great seven-night packag Holiday Tours has several Thailand packages on offer, including Phuket and Koh Samui. Valid from November 1 to 30, and January 16 to March 31, 2010, there are a range of seven-night three- and four-star packages on offer with flights on either Cathay Pacific or Malaysia Airlines. The packages range from R8 190 to R14 590 and include flights, accommodation, return airport transfers and current airport taxes and fuel levies. See Holiday Tours’ Far East packages on Travelinfo for details.


12 n Wednesday October 28 2009



Babies welcome at Club Med Phuket Thailand for culture vultures


HEY say that the best holiday you can give parents is to keep their child happy and Club Med’s new Baby Club in Phuket aims to do just that. Opening December 15, Baby Club will offer a full programme of activities, such as baby gym, massages and meals. Operating seven days a week from 09h00 to 17h30, Baby Club offers a minimum of two supervisors per group (babies are split into two groups depending on their

age) and a maximum of four babies per supervisor. Baby Club supervisors are qualified with specific childcare training. For €290 (R3 175) a week, babies will typically spend the day playing games to stimulate their curiosity and sensations, as well as go for walks and playing in the paddling pool, among other activities. From 18h00 to 19h30, The Baby Club restaurant welcomes babies with parents for a family dinner.

Tale of two cities Tell your culture buff clients on a budget to offer Istanbul and Bangkok, flying Turkish Airlines to the Thai capital on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. According to Turkish Airlines SA commercial manager, Orhan Karaoglu, passengers flying TK from Johannesburg, arrive at 06h15 and can spend the day sightseeing

around Istanbul and take in some of the world’s best cultural and historical sites including Topkapi Palace, before heading to Bangkok at 23h35 the same day, arriving in Bangkok the following day at 13h05. Says Orhan: “Turkish Airlines’ promotional fares start at R4 990 excluding airport taxes.”

Thompsons is your Thailand destination specialist!

Where City Chic Meets Islan d Paradise… Dream Dream

thethe destination... destination... Live Live thethe journey. journey. A specialist collection of exotic Thai delights


Dream the destination... Live the journey. Dream the destination... Live the journey.


The Golden Triangle is dotted with Buddhist shrines Photo: Stock Xchng

Suggest the northern regions for an authentic Thai cultural experience. Just an hour’s flight and 785km north of Bangkok, visitors can fly to Chiang Rai. The mountainous landscape is home to ruins of ancient settlements, Buddhist shrines and several hill tribes, who can be visited. Chiang Rai is a rather laid-back town but can be used as a base from which to explore Thailand’s border with Laos and Myanmar. The area is called the Golden Triangle, where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand converge, with highlights including Doi Tung Royal Villa, the final residence of the mother of the King of Thailand, with its beautiful gardens; Mae Salong, the site of a Kuomintang museum; the Gate of Siam, which borders Laos and offers views over the Mekong River; the Chiang Rai night market; Mae Sai, the border town to Myanmar; and the Opium Museum located in Chiangsean. Suggest Le Meridien Chiang Rai along the Mae Kok River. The resort comprises 159 modern rooms and suites in five wings. A range of facilities, including a gym, swimming pool, two restaurants and a spa, is on offer. Opened in 2008, the resort has the distinction of being the first five-star resort in the province.

Insider tips

● Upon entering Thailand at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, before progressing through passport control, tell your clients to visit the health station. Officials will require them to fill out a form and have this stamped before they can progress through passport control. ● Advise clients to wear modest clothing during temple visits and remove their shoes before entering. Women must cover their shoulders. ● If your clients are renting a scooter to explore the islands, driving is on the left side of the road. Although it is not compulsory to wear a helmet, traffic can be busy so it is advisable to use one. ● Shopping in Thailand is a must, even if you’re not a shopaholic. Your clients could benefit from the beautiful array of Thai silks, wooden curios, bags, T-shirts, shoes, hill tribe crafts, ceramics and jewellery on offer at the markets. Tell them not to be afraid to haggle. ● Plastic bottles are not allowed on some of the islands. In fact it is prohibited to bring any on to the island. ● Thai cuisine can be very spicy so be sure to advise your waiter beforehand what level of spiciness you would like. Thai food incorporates several flavours: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and hot. Use a fork and spoon to eat, using the fork to push small amounts of food on to the spoon as it is impolite to use a fork to put food into one’s mouth.

Did you know?

Thai Airways is planning to launch a service between Bangkok and Johannesburg from March 2010 for the duration of the 2010 World Cup. It has yet to be confirmed whether the service will continue much longer after the event.

Thompsons – the Far East specialists! THOMPSONS Holidays has released its Thompsons Far East Collection featuring Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia. The brochure, says pr manager, John Ridler, is “brimming with packages at sought-after hotels, tips on must-see sights and exciting day tours to enhance your clients’ holiday experience”. Suggest this holiday special with Thompsons:

Five-night Royal Caribbean cruise from Singapore calling at Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi and sizzling Phuket for only R15 181pp including flights ex-Johannesburg (excluding taxes), return transfers, two nights at the Copthorne Kings Hotel in Singapore, five-nights cruise on Legend of the Seas in an inside cabin, all meals and entertainment and also port charges and tipping.

The world has never been so delicious to fly around. We're proud to fly you to more than 150 destinations aboard our young fleet, offering you more comfortable seats, culinary delights and an exclusive flight experience along our expanded routes. Enjoy the privileges of exploring the world on Turkish Airlines and connect to over 960 destinations, taking advantage of Star Alliance network.


14 n Wednesday October 28 2009




Births, deaths, marriages, promotions – we want to know! Please fax or e-mail TNW's Jeanette Phillips, at or (011) 327 4094.

our website is updated daily! visit



REGIONAL MANAGER Southern Africa & Latin America

Air Mauritius SA (PTY) Ltd, a subsidiary of Air Mauritius Ltd - an international airline established in 1967 and operating out of its base in Mauritius - has a challenging position of Regional Manager to oversee its operations in Southern Africa and Latin America. This is a position which will be based in Johannesburg. If you are innovative and committed to excel, are an outgoing and bright team player, come and explore the opportunity to work for our airline and reap the benefits of working in the travel arena. This high performer can look forward to be a member of a motivated team that is committed to deliver service by excellence.

■ Jacque Gabellone joins the Three Cities group as the new sales executive for the West Rand region. Previously with Thompsons Holidays, Jacque will be responsible for all retail agents and corporates in the West Rand and for establishing new business.

Purpose statement of the job The main responsibility of the Regional Manager – Southern Africa & Latin America will be primarily to promote the efficiency of overall commercial transactions and assist in the development of the markets. He/She will contribute in maximising route profitability and ensuring the maintenance of service standards and sound relationships with all partners in the travel trade. Experience and Qualifications The right incumbent needs to have a degree in Marketing/Sales or any related Management field with at least 10 years experience in the airline/travel related industry out of which 5 years should be in a managerial position.

■ Beate Schoess has joined Amadeus GTD Southern Africa as the team’s new customer services manager. Beate has been working in the travel industry for almost 25 years. ■ Shanti Ananda Mauritius has announced the appointment of Paul Van Frank as gm. He has 25 years’ experience in the hospitality industry and previously worked at Ananda in the Himalayas as gm.

CANdIdATE PROfILE To be successful in this role, you must: ● have proven leadership, managerial skills, good analytical and negotiating skills with an acute business acumen; ● have a strong sense of public relations and an outgoing personality with excellent interpersonal skills to communicate effectively and harmoniously with the Executive and Management Teams and the staff; ● demonstrate high degree of corporate governance and integrity; ● be a creative thinker capable of developing new ideas and solutions; ● be a team player and be able to support the multi-functional and multi-disciplinary team with whom you will be working and interacting to achieve the objectives of the Company; ● understand fully areas such as revenue management, pricing, scheduling, marketing and sales; ● be proactive and results oriented; ● be able to work long hours and travel at short notice; ● be able to live and work in Johannesburg. If you feel you have the above skills and the passion to bring your career to new heights, you may send your application on the Company’s prescribed form* with full curriculum vitae to latest by 06th November 2009.

The Company reserves the right: ● to convene only the most suitably qualified candidates for the selection exercise(s); ● not to make any appointment following this advertisement

* The application form is to be downloaded from the Air Mauritius Website at the following address TNW5063


needs active person fluent in English, German & Spanish. Must have code 10 drivers license, be a qualified professional hunter.


individual with strong Management skills and indepth Southern African Inbound Incentive NATIONAL SALES MANAGER/ experience!! NORTHERN SUBURBS Hands on position with total responsibility for SAlES KeyExECUTIVE/JOHANNESBURG Account Managers and Business Enthusiastic, energeticManagers! person to promote Development

upmarket brands to the Travel Industry!! BRAND MANAGER/ OPERATIONS MANAGER/WEST NORTHERN SUBURBS RAND YouPerson will bestrong well inrewarded your sound Marketing for invited to join knowledge of leading Incentive Travel and ability to Wholesaler! manage and lead a strong team!!

Competitive offer.

SENIOR CONSULTANT/BOKSBURG ExECUTIVE/PRETORIA JoinSAlES well established, friendly company and work Vibey, bilingual person promote top of the closer to to home! range products to the Travel Trade!!

Post CV to Advertiser, P.O. Box 4844, Dainfern Valley, 2055

TNW2048 TNW2048

Please Take Note of Our New Telephone No.: 011 704 4909

GROUPS & INCENTIVES ACCOUNT MANAGER - Sandton 3+Years exp. In depth knowledge of S.A. Design computer programmes for existing and new Clients. Professional individual. Fixed term contract until August 2010 focusing on the Fifa World Cup. Salary: R17000-R18000ctc p.m. Ann SENIOR INCENTIVES ACCOUNT MANAGER- Sandton Matric with 2+ years. In depth knowledge of S.A. Design and propose computer programmes to existing and new clients. Promote and maintain Business.Travel with Groups and assist with on site inspections or programmes. Salary R21000-R23000ctc. Ann TEMP INTERMEDIATE CONSULTANTRandburg 2+Years experience in travel. Amadeus certificate & proficient. Salary R8000. Nono TOUR CONSULTANT- Midrand 2 years exp. Amadeus qualification and proficient. Computer literate. Salary R3000- R6000. Nono

INTERMEDIATE INBOUND CONSULTANT- Kempton Park FIT’s (individual)Travel arrangements, Leisure groups, Incentive group programmes. Plan & propose own itineraries. Inbound travel exp. Must be a go getter. Nono SAFARI OPERATIONS ASSISTANT – Sunninghill Maintain tour vehicles. Coordinate equipment and vehicle repairs, handle admin work and petty float. Code 10 and mechanical understanding of diesel engines. Own transport. Karen JAPANESE SPEAKING CONSULTANT Sandton Tour operator requires the services of a Japanese speaking individual. Must be able to read, write and speak fluent Japanese. Karen

E mail: Web:


lee botti & associates JOHANNESbURG




Fantastic opening with well est incentives company! Varied function including int’l sales trips, supervision of staff, dev of int’l markets & extensive client liaison. Your proven management track record within the inbound tourism sector coupled with a B.Comm Marketing or similar will be rewarded!

Exciting position exits for your previous solid ability to negotiate & develop supplier/client relations. Law working history/qualification highly adv coupled with previous Inbound exp ess. Overseeing Tourplan team and three divisions within the group. Excellent growth prospects in group. From R20 000



Ideal role for analytical person with excellent customer liaison skills! Main focus is to implement & review management + transaction fees for corporate clients whilst increasing revenue growth for top retail agency. Strong global key account mgmnt exp ess + Powerpoint skills. Structured package + perks.







Flaunt your creative flair! Deal with the leisure market putting enticing packages together into Africa. If you love making holiday dreams come true & have previous exp in tour operating or leisure travel, call us now! Ideal for the Int going on Senior Cons! R10 000 ctc.

Tel: Tracey (011) 803 6606

QUICK READ FOR busiest people

Talk the hind leg off the donkey at this superb outbound wholesale operator calling on Travel Trade, promoting new specials & products! Three stunning products that sell themselves. You’ll be young, vibey, hip & happening here! You’ll have opp to work from home with laptop, 3G, cell allowance, petrol card and basic salary of R10 500.00

Tel: Wayne (021) 418 1084

General Manager – Gauteng Senior Manager with conferencing experience required to see to the smooth running of an operation. Will include staff management, business growth, marketing and finance. Must have strong business and financial acumen, excellent leadership skills and must have had previous management experience at a senior level. Flexible to travel at short notice. R35000/ R40000. Kati Namibia based opportunity! Impressive operator with long-standing history and an excellent reputation requires a Reservations Manager for one of their business units. Will be responsible for a team of 5 with the focus on managing and developing the business unit in line with company goals. Relationship management, delivering service excellence and driving sales are core functions. Sound knowledge of the SADAC area and excellent knowledge of Namibia is required. Must have 3 years managerial experience. Tracey Int/Snr Wholesale Consultant – N/Suburbs Join this highly reputable operation which has excellent sought after products. Candidates must have Amadeus and previous wholesale experience. Kati

General Manager Inbound Travel Well established incentive travel company with large blue-chip client base requires a GM for their inbound division. A highly negotiable package is on offer depending on experience and the company is prepared to pay a top salary for the right expertise. Kati Operations Manager Join well established incentive travel company. Candidates must have previous outbound incentives experience, have excellent leadership skills and a relevant business degree. A highly attractive salary in line with experience is on offer. Kati


Highly negotiable MANAGER/WEST pacakage offered by Market Leader GENERAl RAND for negotiable your B.Comm/equivalent abilityto to degreed lead Highly package and offered department of 45 people!

Airline Sales Executive – Pretoria Represent an international carrier calling on the travel trade and corporate companies in the Pretoria area. Candidates must have previous airline sales experience and have all the qualities of a successful sales person. R14500 plus car allowance, plus cell allowance, medical aid and pension contributions. Kati

Front Office Manager –Pretoria Beautiful, modern 4 star Boutique Hotel. 80% of guests are international. Relevant experience and own transport is essential. Tracey

All applications will be treated in strictest confidence.

Personnel with the personal touch

CONTACT WENDY/KIM TEl: 011Contact 704 4909 FAx: 086 538 5889 Wendy/Kim E-MAIl: (011) 704 4909 or e-mail:

Marketing Executive – Sandton Marketing expertise is the key to joining this International Airline. Will be involved in all aspects of marketing for South and Southern Africa and this will incorporate handling press releases, dealing with advertising agencies and the media, road shows and branding. Both a strategic and operational position. Would ideally like candidates to have an airline background but will also consider tour operator experience. Strong marketing expertise is essential. R19000 plus cell allowance and benefits. Kati

Tel: Jill (031) 201 8330

Not for the faint-hearted!! Superior 5-star lodge in Northern KZN seeks exp’d people to assume resp for various roles within their lodges. Prior management exp within game lodge environ / hospitality ess + ability to deal with demands of elite clients. Live-in position for single person with own transport. To R10 000 + perks.

See our website for a further selection of exciting vacancies!

Portuguese Inbound Consultant Must be able to speak, read and write Portuguese fluently plus have the ability to independently put together inbound travel programs. Will be rewarded with an attractive package and incentive bonus. Kati Inbound Consultants – Sandton Highly acclaimed inbound operator requires a Senior and Intermediate Inbound Consultant. This is a top company with an excellent infrastructure that provides very good support to the consultants. Tracey Snr Incentives Consultant R20000 plus hospital plan and incentive bonus. Handle outbound incentives for well established company dealing with blue-chip companies. Will create incentive programs, handling the process from beginning to end. Will also travel with the groups and undertake site inspections. Kati PA to Hotel GM – Magaliesberg area A live-in position based at 5 star hotel. Your general PA skills will be appreciated. R7000 plus full board and lodging. Tracey Processor – Sandton Play a supportive role to a team of inbound travel consultants. Emphasis will be on preparing, processing and filing of documentation. An excellent opportunity for a junior to join highly regarded company with excellent reputation. Candidates must have above average English writing ability as well as excellent keyboard/typing skills. Tracey Office Admin Assistant – W/Suburbs A graduate with drivers license is required to handle various admin functions within a busy office, as well as take responsibility for submitting and collecting group visas and general collections and deliveries. Be part of a highly successful company. This is an AA opportunity. Kati Admin Controller – Sandton R10000/R12000. Join well known 3 star hotel and be part of a large hospitality group. Job description includes creditors, debtors, salaries and wages, and general administration of procedures and standards. Min two years bookkeeping experience required. Tracey World Cup 2010 Opportunity! A specialist role promoting and maintaining business with a specific focus on the FIFA World Cup 2010. This is a Fixed Term contract, ending August 2010. Will design programmes for existing and new clients and handle the full process thereafter. Will include traveling with the groups and assisting with on-site coordination. R17000/R18000. Kati Help Desk Consultant – N/Suburbs Take inbound calls and emails requesting assistance with online bookings and ticketing. Will also assist with training. Must be proficient on Galileo. R6000. Tracey

Office Hrs (011) 884-9113 Website: e-mail:


■ The Three Cities Group has appointed Donovan Pretorius as its sales executive for the Cape region. Donovan’s responsibilities will include calling on major corporate companies around Cape Town.

SpecialiZed Travel perSonnel

Wednesday October 28 2009 n 15


Shabby service from Vietnamese embassy Natasha Tippel


NW HAS heard from a number of travel agents who are experiencing problems with the Vietnamese embassy in Pretoria. Agents have complained that they are having trouble when trying to contact the embassy via telephone, email or fax, and that it does not keep its stated office hours of 08h00 to 15h00 but, rather, is open from 08h30 until 11h30. Another common complaint is that the embassy insists on an original deposit slip, making photocopies unacceptable. “I tried calling them, emailing them and faxing them for days on end and received no reponse

whatsoever,” says one consultant. “Eventually I was so desperate I told my client to fly from Lusaka to Johannesburg to try and obtain her visa the day before she was due to depart for Vietnam. “She did this at great expense and arrived at the embassy at 11h30 – thank goodness because they told her they were closing at 11h30 and not 15h30 as they publicise. “The embassy did not want to issue my client a visa because she only had the photocopy of the deposit, which was paid four days prior from my ABSA to their ABSA account and should have shown immediately. They claimed they could not look it up and she must pay again.

“Very, very shabby arrangement and service.” Another agent, whose client wanted to travel to Vietnam on holiday at the beginning of this

“Eventually I was so desperate I told my client to fly from Lusaka to Johannesburg to try and obtain her visa the day before she was due to depart for Vietnam.” year, experienced similar problems. “We sent in his application, passport and supporting documents to the embassy via courier and it was in time. “At the end of the day,

we had so many problems getting the visa due to no response, delays, etc., that we had to courier back the passport. “My client then had to fly, one day before departure to Vietnam, to Pretoria, drive to the embassy and get his passport stamped, according to prior arrangement with the embassy. “The visa fees had been paid ahead of time by bank transfer but the embassy consultant insisted that my client pay an additional R300, which I interpreted as a bribe. My client left without his visa. “I called the embassy the following day and asked if they had an authorisation number from Vietnam for my client to go to Laos and get

his visa there. “This is exactly what my client did. He flew to Laos, went to the Vietnamese embassy there, gave the authorisation number we received from the embassy in Pretoria, but had to pay another US$60 as there was no record of the money we had paid to the Pretoria embassy.” However, Visa Express in Johannesburg says they have had no problems with the embassy. After several unsuccessful phone calls and emails, TNW was advised to contact Mr Binh at the embassy, on 012 362 8119 (ext. 101) or via email at embassy@ for consular issues. The embassy declined to comment on the above issues. ■

Travelstart ceo takes on his critics brought to you by eTNW and TRAVELINFO

Comair’s plans to buy DBN – agents don’t agree Do you think it will be practical for Comair to buy Durban International?

■ Yes 47% ■ No 53% “Yes, especially as the authorities spent mega bucks improving the access roads and parking facilities and the public are now used to the updated airport.” Graham De Witt, Astra Travel Pietermaritzburg eTravel is the ITC market leader in South Africa and assists senior Travel Consultants and Travel business owners to realise their dreams. If you have ever dreamt of owning your own travel business or would like to cut costs by doing away with your IATA license and improve your current business efficiencies then you should call eTravel. We run the back office for over 190 Independent Travel Companies and specialise in making your travel business a success by offering the best commissions, overrides & a comprehensive support structure. If you have a client base, 5 years retail travel experience or already own your own business but want to make more, then contact us! You’ll be amazed at how easy it is! /

Hilka Birns TRAVELSTART ceo Stefan Ekbergh has taken on his critics who have accused him of double standards over his call for price transparency in the industry. Earlier this month Stefan warned that lack of transparency in the way airfares were published was frustrating travellers and giving the industry a bad name. He called on the industry “to stop confusing and frustrating its clients by being inconsistent and duplicitous in the way they advertise and quote fares”.


Stefan’s call was met by harsh criticism from some quarters of the trade who accused him of being a hypocrite. “Stefan Ekbergh’s company does not show all the different fees for flights, car hire and hotels. Only at the end of the booking page will the client see that there is an extra amount. “He also pre-ticks some travel options, without making it clear to the clients, before paying for the booking,” said one source, who claimed to have worked at Travelstart for two years.

“Practise what you preach,” retorted another stung agent. She accused Travelstart of being “quite deceiving when you get to the payment page”. “Your total fare is displayed and already added to your basket is an array of services like Travelassist at R89, cancellation and refund policy at R99, and an SMS of your booking confirmation number at R9.” She also pointed to unhappy Travelstart customers on the consumer website Another agent said it was impossible to quote an inclusive fare upfront with all the currency fluctuations in South Africa. “I don’t think anyone is really being dishonest when mentioning nett fares in the GDS or on the websites, provided they also mention right away that various levies and airport/country taxes have to be added.”

Valid reasons

Stefan defended his position saying he had very valid reasons for highlighting this issue. His call followed a poll of 8 994 customers, 99,2% of whom preferred all fares and taxes be disclosed upfront. Asata, he said, was moving too slowly to change the lack

of transparency. “This bad practice is no news to Asata. I feel too little is being done and the process is too slow. A direct approach is far more effective. We want the same thing as Asata, but we are a consumer service company and, as such, we feel a need to work towards a more transparent industry.” Travelstart, he said, added its service fee into the price that it disclosed. “People know from the very first screen on our website what they will have to pay for the trip,” he said. “All add-on products give the customer added value and travellers are free to choose. If a customer buys a trip and feels that we are not worth our service fee, we will credit them our whole service fee.” He said Travelstart bought and quoted in local currency. “Travel agents use currency fluctuations as an excuse to increase their fees.” About unhappy customer comments on Hellopeter he had this to say: “If a customer has a complaint regarding our fees and feels that he has bought a product he didn’t want, or simply changes his mind, we will refund immediately. We serve 1 000 passengers per day.” ■


16 n Wednesday October 28 2009


Travel News Weekly 28 October 09  

Travel news for the South African travel industry

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