Sherwin Banda, PresidentDirect Line: 818.649.1920 | E-mail: email@example.com
Sherwin Banda, the quintessential hotelier, has spent more than 17 years in the international hospitality industry and is renowned for his highly personalized approach to customer care, empowering managerial style, and passionate devotion to all things Africa. Born and raised in Cape Town, Banda’s impressive resume includes various positions in South Africa, the United Kingdom, and United States. Most recently, Banda’s role as General Manager of the Table Bay Hotel allowed him to subtly reposition the hotel’s product and service offerings, resulting in a substantial revenue growth.
Sherwin - It was great meeting you at Virtuoso Travel Week! Just yesterday a friend told me about the wonderful experience her client had with you in South Africa this summer. It reminded me of meeting you at VAST, I look forward to contacting you with future business…3 people this summer recommended your company for clients traveling to Africa!
My Interview With Renowned Filmmaker & TreadRight Ambassador Céline Cousteau
At African Travel, Inc. we are passionate about conservation and supporting the local communities that we visit. As part of the TTC family of brands, we believe that giving back to communities is as important as showcasing the beauty of Africa to our clients. Our commitment to conservation and sustainable tourism has only been further cemented after my recent visit to the Shamwari Game Reserve. The Shamwar Game Reserve is an example of successful sustainable tourism that is nothing short of inspiring.
This month Céline Cousteau and myself sat down to talk about her passion for the environment, along with her work as an ambassador for The TreadRight Foundation. The TreadRight Foundation, established by The Travel Corporation in 2008, is a not-for-profit working to ensure the environment and communities we visit remain vibrant for generations to come.
Sherwin Banda: What inspires you to keep exploring this planet?
Céline Cousteau: There is so much to be inspired by on this planet. I feel that being able to explore and gather stories, find their relevance for other people, and bring those stories back will always be the inspiration behind my travels. Travelling has the amazing ability to create a deeper appreciation of the interconnectedness of places and people. It also creates a better understanding of the impact that we have on the planet, not just as travelers but as global citizens.
Sherwin Banda: You are a renowned filmmaker and possess a beautiful gift for storytelling. How do you decide what stories are important to communicate with the world?
Céline Cousteau: There are three big messages that give me the inspiration and energy to keep storytelling, and help me decide which stories I will tell through my films. The first is that I strive to live a life with purpose, and even at the hardest times, believing in what I am doing and be passionate about it keeps me going. If the story is something that I believe in, I want to pursue it and share it with the world. Secondly, I strive to inspire other people by being an example, which means finding the stories and people that are doing amazing things to make a difference on this planet, and bring attention to them, creating local ambassadors of travelers and guests alike. Even if the story I tell changes the life and actions of a single person, it matters. That is the third and probably most important message - every little bit matters. When I see the efforts of people around the world improving humanitarian or environmental situations, it gives me hope which is something I anticipate will resonate with people through my films and stories.
Sherwin Banda: What’s your next adventure?
Céline Cousteau: This summer, we officially begin the inaugural session of The Céline Cousteau Film Fellowship, an academic leadership program I’ve created currently in partnership with the University of California, Santa Barbara. We’ll be traveling with four fellows on a documentary field expedition to Namibia and will be focusing on the human elements that impact wildlife conservation.
I’ll be following that up with time in South Africa visiting with some of our TreadRight Wildlife Initiative partners, looking to share their stories. This includes a visit to Bushmans Kloof, an important wilderness reserve that is also home to more than 130 sites of bush art paintings, some dating back as far as 10,000 years.
Sherwin Banda: What about the TreadRight Foundation resonated with you and convinced you to become its Ambassador?
Céline Cousteau: I became a member of the TreadRight Steering Committee in 2012, helping to source and select the projects that TreadRight supports. From there, it was a very natural and organic next step to becoming the TreadRight Ambassador, as it allowed me to further support TreadRight by taking my storytelling abilities to help share the message about the foundation and their project partners’ work to travelers. This role really gives me an incredible outreach opportunity to tell stories to anyone that is paying attention to what travel companies are doing when it comes to local and sustainable initiatives.
Sherwin Banda: Having traveled the globe extensively, in your view what is the greatest environmental challenge of our time?
Céline Cousteau: The greatest environmental challenge we are facing right now is the future of human behavior and consciousness. My fear is that we aren’t going to react and act in time. We need to listen as a global community, be conscious that every choice matters, and understand that whatever happens to the environment will happen to us. We all have a common stake in the health of our planet. Hopefully, the work of humanitarians and non-profits will inspire more people to think and believe they are an integral part of the environment, and work towards sustaining our planet for generations to come.
Sherwin Banda: Africa offers a plethora of exciting experiences for environmental enthusiasts. What is your favorite African destination?
Céline Cousteau: I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to see much of the world, but explorers are never done exploring and I’m excited that I still have so much of Africa to experience, beginning with Namibia and South Africa this summer, for a pair of projects, the first of which is for The Céline Cousteau Film Fellowship, and the second for TreadRight.
In honor of Mandela day, it’s the time of the year that we remember how important it is to give to give back. The principle of Mandela day is taking just 67 minutes of your time to give back in whatever way you can.
The story of Nelson Mandela’s struggle has been long documented and been an inspiration to so many people all over the world. He spent 67 years working to make the world a better place, by devoting 67 minutes of their time – one minute for every year of Mandela’s public service – people can make a small gesture of solidarity with humanity and a step towards a global movement for good.
As someone who grew up in South Africa during apartheid, Mandela day is something that is very close to my heart, as I know first hand the difference that lending a helping hand can make in the lives of the people of Africa. At African Travel we are very proud supporters of The Amy Foundation who aims to empower and uplift the youth of the communities around Cape Town, through providing after-school programs in dance, drama, sports, music and cooking. African Travel is also the co-founder and strong supporter of TreadRight a non-profit organization dedicated to ensure the communities and environments we visit remain vibrant for generations to come.
Finally, I would like to wish you all a wonderful Mandela day and working together we can continue to spread his message of hope and kindness. If you would like to learn more about Nelson Mandela’s journey, why not make your next Safari “In The Footsteps Of Mandela”. This provocative journey of inspiration through the vibrant and culturally diverse "Rainbow Nation." The fascinating history of Nelson Mandela’s South Africa is brought to life through a collection of soulful encounters with the people and places he touched in his efforts to end apartheid. Round out your South African sojourn with a safari revealing the country’s natural beauty and wildlife."
My Return To South Africa
Recently I had the pleasure of visiting my homeland South Africa. This visit was special for so many reasons – one of the main ones was getting to experience the wonderful work being done by The Amy Foundation. The Amy Biehl Foundations story is remarkable, and continues to attract volunteers from all over the world. As I grew up on the cape flats of Cape Town during apartheid, I know first hand the hardships that face the communities in this area.
The Amy Foundation aims to empower and uplift the youth of the communities by providing after-school programs in dance, drama, sports, music, cooking and more to children living in vulnerable communities around Cape Town. The programs help to keep kids off the street and engaged in an environment where they can learn life skills and most importantly, have fun!
I also experienced a safari at Shamwari Game Reserve, which was truly breathtaking.
Returning to the bush and experiencing the sights and sounds of Africa while on safari is truly one of my favorite things in the world. I am in a constant state of euphoria as I listen and see the magic unfold in the bush. Watching the sky change from day to night is like witnessing a beautiful masterpiece being painted before your eyes. Being in nature and completely surrounded by Africa’s wildlife is an experience everyone should have. One of my favorite moments on safari was being encircled by elephants. Being so close to the gentle giants is a moment I will cherish forever.
Being amongst the wildlife also made me more passionate than ever about the need to protect and preserve this magical landscape for decades to come. Shamwari Game Reserve is home to some of the most advanced anti poaching units in the country. It is also home to The TreadRight Bat Hawk which works to aid Shamwari’s mission to stop poaching and protect the Africa’s wildlife.
The sustainable development and conservation philosophies of the Amy Biehl Foundation and Shamwari Game Reserve supports African Travel, Inc’s. vision to make a meaningful difference in the communities where we do business and reaffirms our pledge to the TreadRight Foundation. Our parent company, The Travel Corporation founded The TreadRight Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps to ensure the communities and environments we visit remain vibrant for generations to come.
The Castleman Family
We seriously had the most incredible time — we now refer to it as “the trip of a lifetime”! From the moment we landed in South Africa, we were treated like gold. The hotel in Cape Town, The Twelve Apostles, was amazing.
The staff all knew our names and greeted us warmly everyday. And the service was excellent! Our lodging on safari was also amazing. Southern Camp was beautiful! The rooms were clean, spacious, had indoor and outdoor showers and we each had our own little plunge pool.
The most fabulous part of the entire trip were the game drives. Those animals were just fantastic!
We had an incredible guide whose knowledge was out of this world.
I seriously can’t thank you enough for helping us plan this trip. Have I mentioned it was INCREDIBLE!
Many, many thanks for everything!
From Debbie, Michael and The Castleman Family