Toerboer: Providing a unique experience
For an entit
y th at
started out fortuitously, and barely a year ago, Toerboer has seen incredible interest in its offerings, particularly its mountain biking tours, which include trips in the Big Five country.
Founded by Dawid de Wet and Johan Kriek, both with significant experience r unning overland tours on the continent, Toerboer specialises i n overlanding and mountain biking. It was born after Deon Meyer, the prolific author, was asked for references by JeanMarc Laherrere, a Parisian keen on exploring South Africa.
“Deon Meyer gave them Johan’s name − whom he met on a previous motorcycle t o u r. J e a n - Marc contacted Johan who then passed everything to me because he didn’t have time to arrange the tour. The family came over, and we had a wonderful tour,” De Wet recalls.
Next up, he asked Kriek, a pioneer in self- drive 4x4 tours, why they were not pursuing this business “because we enjoy it and have lots of experience”.
In 2014, the pair dived in. Assisted by five freelance guides and rangers in different towns in the region, they have taken local and overseas travellers around SA and the region on mountain bike and 4x4 tours.
When met De Wet, he noted an upcoming trip to a Berlin trade fair. This will enable him to meet travel agents and visit Toerboer’s old clients in France, Poland and Switzerland. The operator is gaining traction in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany – otherwise a source of 320 000 SA-bound visits a year.
It ’s not by default its clientele spans several countries. “Word of mouth is the best marketing; that’s how we win clients,” says De Wet, who’s picked up Dutch in his decadelong hospitality career.
Also on focus is China. “We’re trying very hard to get into the Chinese market,” he adds, noting positive feedback from those who have joined Toerboer’s tours. With outbound visits pegged by the UN at 110m annually (of which a mere 150 000 come to SA), China’s importance in global tourism can’t be overstated.
Toerboer’s biggest challenge to date has been to access the necessary f unds to grow t he business, De Wet says.
“New visa regulations [biometric data collection and children to travel with unabridged birth certificate] also pose a real challenge to a startup like us in tourism without a strong and established market.”
Toerboer’s itinerary, of up to two weeks, exposes guests to usual attractions and spots off the beaten track like Kuruman and Van Zylsrus. Activities include sunset cruises, braais, game drives, hiking that can span days in Mozambique or Drakensberg, visits to local shebeens as well as oyster dining.