Meet Kira Wakeham

Kira Wakeham

Travel and Tourism student Kira will literally be ‘taking on the world’ after completing her course at Oaklands, as she returns to her home town in South Africa to set up her own business as a tour guide.

20 year-old Kira came to the UK for further study after schooling in South Africa, staying with family and furthering her education. Staying in Welwyn Garden City, she chose to study Travel and Tourism at Level 3 for two years for the wide job opportunities it could bring when moving into the working world.

It was when heading home after completing her first year that Kira first discussed the idea of setting up a family travel business, after seeing the potential to create a business that specially welcomes UK tourists to South Africa.

The business, ‘KW African Tours and Safari’ has been set up with the support of Kira’s family whilst she completed her final assignments. She will soon join her family to finalise the details of the business so it can begin to market and attract its first clients.

Although she will be finished at Oaklands, study will continue in South Africa as Kira will train to pass the exam requirement to become a qualified tour operator in the region. She will need to learn all about the attractions and sites she plans to visit with her visitors in order to operate and trade.

Kira and her family are building on their existing network of friends and contacts in and around their base of Pretoria, about an hour north of Johannesburg to start to build their network of potential lodges to guests to stay and local attractions to visit. With a friend on hand who has recently passed the necessary exams to be a travel guide, Kira can learn first-hand from them whilst she trains to do it herself.

She says some of the most recent modules in the course such as the one on Tour Operators gave her an invaluable insight into the very world she will be putting into practise in her new business.

She said: “Our course has covered everything from the detail in planning and costing a trip to design, and branding a business to clients – skills that will be invaluable in this new venture. I didn’t go into the course thinking I would be setting up my own business, but my studies have given me the skills and confidence to make it happen.”

During her time at Oaklands Kira completed work experience at local businesses to give her grass roots experience of different aspects of the travel industry. This included work at a local Premier Inn and as a Playmaker working with children.

She adds: “My work experience placements were really useful – they  gave me a feel for the sort of system and procedures a business has and also the level of detail required in dealing with members of the public. “

Although the business will be UK focused initially, Kira says over time the plan is to expand it to surrounding countries such as Mozambique, Botswana and Namibia. She says: “I want to target the UK market as it seems so many people want to see South Africa but are hesitant because of the stories they hear. You just have to go to the right places – it’s a beautiful country and if we can help welcome more people to see it, all the hard work will be worthwhile.”

Kira is currently in the process of setting up a website but you can follow her business on Facebook at KW African Tours and Safaris