Interview

Kathleen Aerts about life in South Africa

Interview

Kathleen Aerts

Kathleen Aerts left the showbiz world in Belgium years ago for a life as a tour operator in South Africa . She runs the travel agency StievieWonderTours with her husband Steven. With Travel Reasons she shares about her life there and how she is currently experiencing the corona crisis

Corona crisis

Kathleen and her family are doing fine given the circumstances. They are of course affected as a travel agency because they generate their income from the commissions on hotels and guesthouses. But they don’t suffer too hard. Aerts has a good eye on the future for travel. People will travel again en masse next year and that makes up for lost time. Now she is mainly concerned with tasks that otherwise would not be done.

Aerts is also very proud of how the South African government is tackling the crisis. They are strict, communicate clearly and acted quickly in the beginning (as early as February), so that of the 50 million inhabitants, only 11,000 infections have now been measured. Certainly in places like townships, where people live close to each other, it is a good thing that the virus has only spread to a limited extent. The measures to contain the virus still apply. Previously, the population was no longer allowed to exercise outside.

That is now allowed back, but only between 6 and 9 am. Selling cigarettes and alcohol is temporarily prohibited. This is to keep the hospital beds free for victims of the virus and to reduce further lung problems and other complications. At the beginning of the crisis, the temperature of all passengers was also measured at the airports. We can therefore say that they go a step further in South Africa than in Belgium regard to the measures.

In addition, a bonus has been provided by the government for the affected people from the tourism sector, including the employees of StievieWonderTours. Just like in Belgium. Although the bonus in South Africa is not that high. Aerts and her husband therefore pay part of their employees in addition to the government bonus. They find it important that they can retain their employees. They need their team.

Kathleen Aerts
katleen1

About

South Africa

Aerts fell in love with South Africa 20 years ago. According to her, the country has so much to offer and is also a perfect fit for her and her family. She has already visited different corners of the world, including Australia and Thailand, but in South Africa she immediately felt at home. The mix between the modern life she knows from Europe and the charm of Africa appealed to her. It is a beautiful melting pot of European standards in terms of comfort and luxury but with that African touch. Many people think that South Africa is a third world country, but nothing could be further from the truth. We experienced ourselves it is a very progressive country

 

Aerts also sees challenges for South Africa, of course. The circumstances in the many townships particularly affect her. She also notices a difference between black and white, but she sees a positive evolution from 20 years ago. Back then, the black population was never seen as customers in restaurants and the attractive jobs were exclusively for the white population. Fortunately that is different now.

 

Her favorite places in South Africa are the unknown pearls and places where she unexpectedly ends up. For example, Lake Jozini is one such place. Here you will find untouched nature you can enjoy without other tourists. It is still very authentic. She likes to take her travelers to these kinds of places.

africa lion
Kathleen Aerts in South Africa

KATHLEEN AERTS' Bucket List

Aerts still travels often and enjoys it. It’s part of her job. They travel all year round to discover new places to introduce to their customers. They have experienced everything they offer themselves. That is why at StievieWonderTours you will always be dealing with quality experiences. They also always work tailored to the customer, for both group and individual trips. The customer passes on his wishes and based on that a travel proposal is made. Only backpackers are better off putting together their own trip. They honestly say that they have insufficient experience with this. Furthermore, there is something for all price ranges.

The advantage of a good travel agency? Your holiday is arranged down to the last detail by professionals and that gives you peace of mind. At StievieWonderTours they focus on fast, honest and accessible communication to customers. You can expect a first travel proposal within two days of your request. A trip to South Africa does not always have to be expensive. A trip is put together based on your preferences and financial possibilities. Currently StievieWonderTours offers tours in 3 countries, namely Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa. Kathleen and Steven would like to expand that in the coming years. Traveling outside the province is currently not allowed due to the corona measures, but as soon as it is allowed again they want to discover new regions.

At the top of Aerts’ bucket list, the gorillas in Rwanda or Uganda show off. She would like to visit these fantastic animals this year or next year. She also enjoys road trips with her family. They like to discover while driving what there is to do and experience. She continues to find the African countries fascinating.

About Belgium

Aerts made South Africa her home, but Belgium is still important work-related. For example, she attends holiday fairs every year. She doesn’t have to think long about a favorite place in Belgium. The Kempen, her birthplace, remains a favorite. She used to live near Tongerlo Abbey. As a teenager she came to rest there and it is very pleasant to stay there. The old buildings speak for themselves and make it a charming place. She recommends De Beeltjens (and Kwareken) nature reserve to nature lovers. You can make beautiful walks in the forest. Domain Den Asberg is fun for families or people who love good food and drinks. A walk from Tongerlo to Averbode is also recommended. We know where to go this summer!

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