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SSouth African native, Tolene has more than 15 years’ experience in the travel industry, working on Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) initiatives. She began her career in South Africa, at travel agency Exclusive Getaways, before becoming National Sales Manager at Gatsby International Hotels. She then moved to the UK in 2005 to become Product Manager at African Affair Travel. In 2007, van der Merwe launched her own company, London-based Boutique Travel Marketing, providing marketing and representation for African tourism products.
Commenting on Tolene’s position, SA Tourism’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Thulani Nzima said: “Tolene is the ideal candidate for this job because of her wide-ranging and expert industry experience, both within South Africa and the UK. Her strong trade background means she is well-suited to driving our arrivals figures from the UK and maintaining its strong position as the number one market for international visitors to South Africa.”
Tolene remarked: “I am delighted to be joining SA Tourism’s UK team to build on the momentum of promoting further awareness and changing perceptions of South Africa to the UK market. I look forward to working with the trade, stakeholders and other partners, as we develop new campaigns, focus on training and seek to develop existing – and forge new – joint marketing agreements.”
Already well-known in the travel trade industry, Tolene has served as Chairperson of the Southern African Tour Operators’ Association (SATOA) and currently sits on the SATOA board and is the UK and Vice President of SKAL London Travel Club. She also sat on the board for developing the SA Chamber of Commerce in the UK, and is a member of SA Business Club and The Tourism Society. In 2011, she was nominated and became a finalist for SA Woman of the Year in the Business category by the SA Business Club.