Yvette De Vries grew up and studied in Stellenbosch, South Africa. She spent the first 10 years of her career in public relations in the local wine industry before moving to the United States and settling in Connecticut. As the senior consultant at African Portfolio since 2001, Yvette’s extensive travels throughout the continent and years of first-hand experience has been of great value to hundreds of travelers for whom she has tailor-made unique and memorable adventures in East- and Southern Africa, Morocco, Egypt, the Seychelles and Mauritius. She is President of the Association for Promotion of Tourism to Africa, or APTA.
Travel Research Online (TRO): What unique experiences does Africa offer that travel agents can pass along to their clients?
Yvette De Vries (YDV): The primary reason why the majority of their clients will want to go to Africa will be to enjoy the thrill of observing a wide variety of wild animal species in their natural state and environment. It is one experience that cannot be replicated to the same degree anywhere in North America, probably the world. I like to understand as much as possible about what kind of safari experience my clients envision so that I can first meet that expectation, and then exceed it with all the other wonderful aspects and attributes of Africa.
TRO: What are some common misconceptions agents and consumers might have about traveling in Africa?
YDV: It may have to do with what books they’ve read or what movies they’ve seen about Africa and on the kind of travel they’re used to in other parts of the world. Some imagine it’s always hot, that it’s a massive desert, or an entire continent-wide “jungle”. Many believe that independent travel is always more expensive than group travel, or that tented accommodation is always less expensive than lodges. People misjudge the complexity of moving around between different regions because there are still relatively few flight routes to connect so many different points of attraction. They simply underestimate the size of the continent and the tremendous variety it offers.
TRO: How was the Association for Promotion of Tourism to Africa (APTA) started?
YDV: The Association was formed in the 80’s to promote travel to Africa by informing and educating the travel industry in North America of her many wonders and attractions. Now that technology has made information itself more accessible, the members continue to learn from each other, encourage each other, and grow their business by building valuable relationships, and gaining the assurance to sell Africa with confidence.
TRO: Tell us about your role in APTA.
YDV: My role is to harness and channel the energy of all our enthusiastic volunteers, to accomplish our mission efficiently and effectively, to ensure that we remain relevant and up to date, continually deliver positive value for all our members, and to bring our work to the attention of those who could benefit from it.
TRO: How has APTA grown and changed since you became President?
YDV: We have certainly made great strides in the way we convey and share information. The apta.biz website and weekly e-mail dispatches have made it possible for us to keep our community connected and current with regular news updates, an events calendar, and member directory. We are also honing in on our role as a B-2-B organization that creates opportunities for our members to establish critical connections in this niche market that will pay off handsomely when our mutual clients eventually travel to Africa.
TRO: What does the future hold for APTA?
YDV: Now that some “heavy lifting” has gone into implementing systems to make us more efficient and establishing better channels of communication, I look forward to seeing the association grow organically and exponentially to the point where we can consider bigger projects such as coordinated destination certification and a major trade event here in America.
TRO: What is your favorite African dish?
YDV: My mother’s fruit salad with fresh pineapple, banana, guava, papaya and little bit of granadilla pulp. Life doesn’t get better!
To learn more about The Association for Promotion of Tourism to Africa, please visit them online at apta.biz.