After losing her battle with cancer, industry stalwart, Renate van den Elzen, passed away last week. She is described by colleagues in the industry as “the pillar of inbound travel”, a “kind soul”, a “legend” and “full of fun”.

She played an important role in developing Tourvest’s inbound business and was part of the Tourvest family for 25 years. For the past 10 years, Renate was part of the Africapass Travel team.

Director, Janit O’Connor-Pretorius, said: “As Renate has taken her final journey, she will be remembered by us all at Africapass for her love of travel, sense of humour and dedicated work ethic. Renate was well liked and respected in the industry.”

Tourvest Destination Management paid tribute to her on its social media pages: “Renate was a mentor to many in the travel and tourism industry, was highly respected, always positive and played an important role in developing Tourvest’s inbound tourism business.

“Born in Austria, Renate started her career in the Southern African inbound travel industry in 1975, joining Wilson Collins Travel in 1979, playing a large role in the formation of Tourvest, where she held the position of Managing Director. Renate was an amazing ambassador for the industry, as she actively participated in developing the Southern African inbound tourism sector to the German market, sharing her wealth of knowledge and experience with friends and colleagues along the way. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her husband Paul, family and friends during this difficult time.”

Art of Travel’s Brigitte Erdmann said: “Even after so many years away she always sent me a birthday wish, every year. What I know about tourism is because of her and my time at Wilson Collins Travel. Gosh, to see her leave us, is hard. RIP, always in my heart.”

Heinz Enne, who founded Welcome Tours and Safaris in 1981, noted: “Renate and I have come a long way in tourism! In good times and bad times a glass or a bottle of wine always sorted most of the challenges. I was honoured to be able to speak to her personally still a few weeks before her passing and she had made peace with the world. RIP Renate, one of the few tourism colleagues I will never forget!”