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TORONTO — Goway’s bookings to the Middle East and East Africa are up, up, up, and the best part is, the growth isn’t coming at the expense of still-popular southern Africa, says Moira Smith, Goway’s General Manager – Africa & Middle East.
Africa sales “are fantastic”, said Smith at yesterday afternoon’s Africa Roadshow event in Toronto. “Business is booming. And our mix has changed. The Middle East and East Africa have grown exponentially without losing any ground in southern Africa.”
For Goway Africa & Middle East, the mix is now 40% southern Africa, 33% East Africa, 25% Middle East and 2% in Mauritius and the islands, says Smith.
Reps from 24 of Goway’s partner suppliers in Africa and the Middle East, from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Egypt, Morocco, UAE, Jordan and Israel, brought agents up to speed at yesterday’s event with theatre-style presentations plus a mini trade show at the Courtyard by Marriott Toronto Downtown.
Goway’s Africa Roadshow is now on its way to Edmonton (Sept. 18) and Calgary (Sept. 19).
Smith says one of the biggest surprises is how many bookings are coming in for Middle East, to destinations like Dubai. “What has blown us away is how popular the Middle East is right now. A destination like Dubai used to be a stopover. Now we’re seeing people do six or seven nights, all in Dubai. Our women-only tours to Dubai, with a focus on culture, shopping and meetings with local women, are especially popular.”
Egypt is also strong, she adds, and Morocco in northern Africa. In East Africa, says Smith, “Kenya is back in a big way. We were seeing a bump even before the new version of The Lion King came out. I think there was a lot of pent-up demand for East Africa.”
Smith sees the progression of Goway clients travelling for Africa the first time, and then coming back for more. As Smith likes to say, “If only go to two continents in your life, go to Africa twice.” South Africa is perfect for first-timers, she notes, with return visitors typically heading to East Africa. For third and fourth time visitors, she recommends Uganda and Rwanda for gorilla treks, or a walking tour of Zambia.
Meanwhile the 30-day bucket list ‘Cape to Cairo’ trip, part of Goway’s Ultimate Journey of a Lifetime series, already has dates for 2021 and 2022.
Gearing up for its 50th anniversary in 2020, Goway is best known for its Downunder product to Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Not surprisingly the region takes top spot in Goway sales. But Africa & the Middle East is number two, and it’s tied with Europe, which Goway only officially launched a few years ago.
Why book Goway? Smith has no shortage of answers. “We’ve been around for 49 years and we’re one of the oldest and most established tour operators in North America, and we’re privately owned,” Smith told agents. “We have excellent product, unbeatable pricing and we offer 24/7 peace of mind. And when it comes to expertise we only hire the best to start with and then we train them like crazy.”