Diana Nyong’a Living Her Dream: Founding a Tours Company and Becoming a Tourism Leader
I never knew what I wanted to pursue after graduating from high school. All I knew was that I wanted to become a boss!
But I had to start somewhere and Strathmore seemed a lucrative choice. So I came and did a short course, the Certificate in Computer Applications (CCA) at the Strathmore Institute of Management and Technology. After successful completing the course, my parents suggested that I pursue Tourism Management. I was willing to try it out because I love travelling. We had a candid talk on this prospect and came to the conclusion that tourism was a blossoming industry with so much potential to grow. I could eventually start my own company… one day. I remember my parents telling me that the main reason they were taking me to university was to learn all the skills and knowledge I needed to start my own tour company. Right now, I am glad they pushed me towards that direction because I have come to love tourism.
Studying Tourism Management at Strathmore University has generally been an eye-opening experience. I have learned so much about being a tourism leader, and being my own boss. The passion, commitment, and fervent pursuit of a dream led me to finally opening a tour company, Tavara Tours and Travel, at the beginning of 2021 and at the height of the dire economic effects of the pandemic. Thanks to a lot of research efforts and support from my lecturers, mentors, and parents.
COVID-19 Impact and the birth of a company
Although most people would choose to see coronavirus as the worst thing that could have happened to the Tourism industry, I saw it as an opportunity. Most tour companies and operators shuddered at the thought of what was going to happen to them. I saw that this would be the best time for me to start my journey to becoming a tourism leader. COVID-19 brought in the idea of a ‘new normal’ which opened a new way to serving potential customers in the ways they are now looking to be served. I decided I needed to stand out from the rest, and what better way than to use my youthfulness and fresh ideas to my advantage.
I quickly realized that most tour companies only sold wildlife safaris and coastal beaches. Although those are still our major selling attractions, Kenya has so much more to offer. We have a vibrant history and culture, many adventurous activities to take part in, and a lot of hidden gems that are yet to be explored by Kenyan tour operators.
A trip to Amboseli and Tsavo National Parks
In August 2021, the School of Tourism and Hospitality students had the privilege of going on an all-expense paid educational trip to Amboseli and Tsavo West National Parks. The trip was an enlightening, educative and refreshing experience. It’s no secret that there’s something utterly magical about safaris in Kenya, and there’s no experience quite like it. Luckily we got to experience that first hand.
We had the pleasure of getting breathtakingly VIP views of the ever majestic Mount Kilimanjaro from Amboseli, Kilima safari camp, where we spent the night at. We went on early morning game drives that gave us the chance to experience nocturnal animals going to rest after a busy night and diurnal animals starting their day as the sun rose slowly over the vast savanna grassland. Seeing the different species of flora and fauna in Amboseli and Tsavo West was ethereal. In Amboseli, the second most famous national park after the Maasai Mara National Reserve, we got to see its excellent variety of wildlife such as the Maasai giraffe, the famous big herds of elephants, lions, and many bird species. In Tsavo West, we saw the “red-colored” elephants, wildebeest, endless herds of buffaloes, and the lush savanna scenery.
We also got to stay in picturesque locations, that is, the Kilima safari camp and Taita Hills resort. The staff was amicable and accommodating, and the food delicious. We also visited the neighboring communities and learned how the conservancies involved them and ensured that their products were sustainable to the locals.
Opportunities come from areas you least expect
The journey from a tourism student to a tourism businesswoman has been one of great honour and pride. I have become more aware of tourism as an industry and learnt invaluable skills on how to build more sustainable tourism. I have come to learn to be grateful for life itself, for my robust support system, and for God’s guidance. Realizing that the grind is real, and it only gets more challenging; we have to keep getting up and marching forward towards our goal.
I will forever be grateful to Strathmore University for shaping me into a game-changer in the tourism industry. Be convinced that although the pandemic has hit the industry hard, we will find our footing again. Remember to stay open-minded, for opportunities come from areas you least expect.
This article was written by Diana Nyong’a, a 4th Year Bachelor of Tourism Management student and Founder of Tavara Tours and Travel.
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