To­er­boer: Pro­vid­ing a unique ex­pe­ri­ence

Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT -

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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.

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