Interview with a GM: Moira Smith, General Manager, Goway Africa and the Middle East

South Africa native, safari enthusiast, luxury rail connoisseur, and all-round travel veteran Moira Smith shares some of the memories, insights, and passion that led her to becoming Goway’s ultimate specialist in all things Africa, along with some big plans for post COVID-19 travel.

What drew you to the Travel Industry?

I have always read voraciously and my books introduced me to worlds I wanted to visit. Worlds that were very different from Apartheid South Africa, where I grew up. In those days pretty much any country that was open to South Africans required a visa. I started working for an airline so I could travel – and I collected a lot of passport stamps. It’s my love of travel that drew me to the industry and that has kept me here for many years.

You have a true passion for Africa. How do you think your view of the world has been shaped by the diverse cultures and landscapes of this continent?

Africa is a challenging, wonderful, frustrating continent, but I’m always inspired by the ‘can-do’ attitude of most Africans. I love to see the success stories in places like Kenya and Tanzania, where communities live in harmony with the wildlife they used to hunt. It’s impressive to see how conservation has contributed to mountain gorilla numbers in Rwanda and Uganda rising – and that’s in large part due to tourism. I’m motivated by organisations such as Project Rhino who do such immense good in the fight against poaching, not just using traditional methods, but by getting children in both Africa and Asia to play their part in protecting these animals. There’s always something to be thankful for in Africa!

How many countries have you visited?

56 and counting – I’m champing at the bit to get travelling again. So many places I still want to see, and so many I want to revisit.

What was the last trip you did?

I spent two weeks travelling though Kenya and Tanzania. No matter how many times I travel to both these countries, I’m inspired anew each time by the people, the landscapes and the experience.

If you were going to the airport (once COVID-19 has passed), where would you want to go?

South Africa! Zoom is not a replacement for seeing my sisters and their families in the flesh (I have five living in South Africa). High on that list would be spending time in the African Bush on safari.

What is your ultimate bucket list trip?

No hesitation – Goway’s Cape to Cairo operating in September 2021. This epic journey traverses the continent of Africa, from Cape Town to Cairo. It’s a 30-day uber deluxe trip covering many of Africa’s essential experiences such as the most luxurious train trip in the world, Victoria Falls, the great migration, gorilla trekking, Lalibela in Ethiopia, and Egypt. There will be a maximum of 14 participants and I’m immensely proud to be tour-leading it. This video shows some of the highlights.

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