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Vinajma1rtually every tourist visiting Cape Town takes in the famous V&A Waterfront. The prestige development in Cape Town’s old harbour has a vast array of restaurants and bars to choose from, there is usually some live entertainment going on in one of the squares, a shopping mall and sea trips that leave from the Waterfront – and there is The Travel Arena.

A full-service travel agency, The Travel Arena is the brainchild of Najma Abrahams. After starting her working career as a teacher, Najma, 39, realised that that just wasn’t what she wanted to do – she really wanted to be in the travel industry.

“I was really lucky,” recalls Najma. “On the first day I went looking for employment I found a part-time job at a travel agency in Cape Town. I then studied for a travel certificate and knew immediately that I had made the right choice.”

For eight years the energetic Najma lectured on tourism at the Cape Town Technikon, becoming the head of its tourism department but she always felt the pull of once again practising what she was preaching. So she started as an independent within a travel agency – a practice which she says is still common nowadays.

Working with one assistant, Najma decided after only a year that the time had come for her to open up her own fully-fledged agency and so The Travel Arena was born. Now employing three people, Najma says that when she started, 80 percent of her work was travel management for corporate clients. “Nowadays it’s more like 50 percent corporate and 50 percent leisure but whatever we do, we do it with passion.”

In December 2009, Najma took a leap of faith, taking a lease on an office space that had become available on the ground floor of the Waterfront’s tourism hub in The Rocket Shed. Surrounded by businesses doing foreign exchange and offering tourist information, The Travel Arena, says Najma, simply could not afford not to be in this prime location. Apart from raising the business’s profile being in the Rocket Shed also translated into more walk-in customers.

Foreign visitors to South Africa invariably research their trips in-depth. They know what sort of experiences they want to have and what places they want to visit, work out how many days they have for each experience and how much money they are willing to spend. But they often leave the actual bookings for when they are in South Africa – and then many of them turn to an expert agent like The Travel Arena.

At The Travel Arena they will find a small team of dedicated professionals who know what they’re talking about and will do whatever is necessary to ensure a memorable travel experience; booking accommodation, game lodges, transfers, car hire, flights, tours and outings. The Travel Arena’s field of expertise is by no means restricted to the Western Cape; they put together packages and itineraries all over South Africa as well as the neighbouring states, even Kenya.

Its new location means that the business will be open seven days a week and that staff, including Najma, will have to work in shifts. “But when I told my staff this, their immediate reaction was: ‘Great. Just tell us when and we’ll be there.’ They see this as a golden opportunity for themselves and for The Travel Arena.

“I believe in the idea of taking on board people who have the right qualifications but especially the passion and drive. My guys are so incredibly loyal. I know they’ll always go the extra distance for me and, most importantly, for our clients. That’s what sets us apart.”

TEP, Najma says has given her the opportunity to travel and promote her business but, perhaps most importantly, put her in touch with other tourism entrepreneurs. “When you’re an entrepreneur you often think that you are the only one facing certain problems. It can be a very lonely existence and it’s wonderful to meet other people who are actually going through exactly what you’re going through and to learn from each other’s experiences.”

LOCATION:

  • First Floor, Union Castle Building, Pierhead Precent, V & A Waterfront

 

Contact Details

Contact:

Najma Abrahams

Telephone:

021 421 7966

e-mail:

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