Redbilled-oxpecker sitting on zebra's back singing his song
When Uwe Sentefol and Callie Zimmer founded SWA Safaris in 1954 in Namibia, they were inspired most probably by their love of the wilderness supported by an adventurous spirit, rather than a certainty that tourism and travel would become one of the largest sectors in the world economy in the 21st century.
SWA Safaris took its first group of paying guests on a ‘study’ tour more than 60 years ago. Back then, who would have imagined that one day a potential visitor could sit at a computer on the other side of the world, Google Namibia, book a flight and tour, choose an itinerary and find more up-to-date information at the click of a button than was available in an encyclopedia in 1954?
Today his son, Wilfried Sentefol, and his granddaughter, Tanja Sentefol, have teamed up at the helm of the oldest tour operating businesses in Namibia.
For a business that started when communication to and from the source markets was limited to telegrams and surface mail, SWA Safaris has been closely linked to the changing face of tourism in Namibia ever since.
The Internet has changed many aspects of tourism business worldwide – speed being the most significant.
“We are so fortunate to have this beautiful country. It has always been a perfect destination for a certain kind of tourist. It is multidimensional because apart from the natural beauty and the diversity of landscape, we have the cultural diversity that makes it all the more interesting. We have so much to show.”
“Apart from the obvious, we also have a stable, peaceful and safe country. All of these combined, benefit us in the modern age of information technology. Travelers are well informed nowadays. They have access to information on a scale that would have been unthinkable two decades ago. This confidence that they cannot be mislead, leads to more individual travel, especially for return visitors, of which Namibia has large and growing numbers.
“Through the Internet we receive a new generation of travelers from countries that have not been our traditional source market. When there are guests from different countries, speaking different languages on a scheduled tour it creates a new challenge.
“The Namibian tourism infrastructure improves and develops all the time. Roads are better, in more directions and to more destinations. Although there are still two bottlenecks, since every tourist wants to visit Etosha and Sossusvlei, the distribution of tourists is more equally spread throughout the country.
As Namibia becomes better known to a larger section of the international travelling market, the variety of other attractions/ landmarks our land has to offer becomes bigger, including places and destinations traditionally not so well known, which entices visitors to return.
“Because of the diversity of products and the distances, visitors feel that it will be worth coming back for another trip to a different part of Namibia. “During some months groups are larger and there are more coaches on the roads, and at other times more individual travelers choose the self-drive option. This is probably the reason why many operating companies have diversified their products during the past decade.
The first time your clients come, they do a coach tour. Next time they bring friends and want a smaller group tour and after that, even choose a self-drive option. As a successful company we have to keep abreast of trends. We must have the ability to move with the times and provide the service that is needed to compete with other long-haul destinations worldwide.
Travel News Namibia is a high-quality glossy Namibia travel and lifestyle magazine tasked with promoting Namibia to the world. With riveting stories, first-hand encounters and magnificent photographs showcasing tourism, travel, nature, adventure and conservation, TNN is the ultimate and most comprehensive guide to exploring Namibia. Travel News Namibia is published in five different editions per year. These include four English- language editions and one German. Travel News Namibia is for sale in Namibia and South Africa.