As soon as the international borders open, Drifters Adventours is ready to resume its 2020 schedule, says GM, Christiaan Steyn.

The company launched its 2021 tour programmes recently, with Steyn highlighting that although the global COVID-19 pandemic – and subsequent travel restrictions and lockdowns – had changed the way the company marketed its new itinerary, there had been a lot of interest in bookings for next year.

“Traditionally, we would have launched our new tours at Indaba this year, holding face-to-face meetings. We have had to have online meeting and e-mails but our overseas partners are hungry for new things and are champing at the bit,” says Steyn.

He told Tourism Update that the changes (over the 2020 tours) included a cutback on tours that weren’t doing as well pre-COVID. “We’ve focused on building our core offering in Eastern and Southern Africa and we’ve also broadened our South African offerings.”

This includes tours to Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape, Cape Agulhas in the Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal’s Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve.

Europe – especially Germany, Switzerland and France (amongst others) – as well as Australia and Canada, remain the strongest markets for the adventure tour company.

Steyn ascribes this to having strong partners on the ground in those countries, which has led to the strength of the brand as well.

Other changes on tours for 2021 will be that there will be two staff members on each tour to ensure the average 12 to 17 guests per tour are well looked after.

Drifters has not lost a single staff member during the pandemic. “We have used the downtime during the lockdown to upskill our staff as well as service and maintain our vehicles so we are literally ready to run with scheduled tours for this year,” says Steyn.

“If the borders open in July, we can resume our July schedules.” He says the Drifters tours are limited to around a maximum of 17 guests and take place in remote parts of South Africa, which makes social distancing easy.

“Of course we have implemented strict hygiene and safety protocols as we take our guests’ safety very seriously,” says Steyn.

30 years of service

Drifters celebrated the 30th anniversary of two high-level employees this year, Ken Hill (marketing) and Steve Maidment (operations), says Steyn.