Q&A: Nadine Clarke, ABTA regional director

Nadine Clarke is ABTA’s newly appointed regional director for Africa. Travel & Meetings Buyer, caught up with her to discuss her new role and what she hopes to bring to the association in the coming months.

Q: What drew you to this opportunity at ABTA?

A: Having spent my entire working career in the travel industry, I am most excited about being able to participate across multi-sectors, address challenges and engage with key players from a neutral standpoint. During my tenure with Diners Club, Monique Swart (Founder of ABTA) presented the concept of starting ABTA to me, and I immediately recognised the need and benefit of such an organisation for the travel industry and signed on as a founding partner. ABTA has since grown from strength to strength, and I hope to be able to leverage my experience to support strategic growth further into Africa and South Africa.

Q: How do you plan to draw on some of your previous job experience in this new role?

A: Building relationships has always been a key focus of mine, and with experience in airline, wholesale, retail, franchising, as well as payment solutions, I believe I am well positioned to be able to add value in leading industry discussions.

Q: What do you expect the first months in your new role to look like?

A: Working closely with Monique, we are planning on launching ABTA into more countries. I’ve been astounded by the interest from countries like Zimbabwe, which have been given a financial injection to boost travel and tourism. We also have our annual conference coming up in November – so yes, a very busy six months!

Q: What are some of the challenges you’re hoping to tackle?

A: I wouldn’t necessarily call them challenges but rather exploring opportunities to further support the TMC, the supplier and the travel buyer in each of their individual needs through various networking and educational events.

Q: Which destinations in Africa are on your radar for expansion and why?

A: Nigeria and Kenya have both been very successful countries for ABTA, and we are looking at relaunching Ghana using the experience gained from Nigeria. Rwanda is also a very fast-growing market along with all our neighbouring countries.

Q: Have you travelled in Africa for business personally – if so, where, and what have your experiences been like?

A: I travelled to Lagos, Nigeria, for the first time recently and was really impressed by the friendliness and courtesy of the locals. There is such bad publicity about travelling into Nigeria that I was really expecting the worst and was very pleasantly surprised. A few years back, I spent two weeks in Ghana on business, and have travelled to Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia and Botswana on business. 

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