Stranded expat turns lockdown into opportunity by launching tour company

By Chad Williams Time of article published Oct 14, 2020

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A South African expat who has been stranded in South Africa for the past six months due to the coronavirus-related suspension of international air travel has started his own tour business in Cape Town.

Shaun Petersen, 41, originally from Lavender Hill in Cape Town, lives and works in Brooklyn, New York City.

Petersen moved to New York in 2013, where he works at Workaway International as a soccer coach and referee for sports clubs and varsity schools in the Brooklyn area.

Petersen’s is a truly inspiring story of persistence in the face of adversity, and it was his “never give up” attitude that gave rise to Shaun Petersen Tours.

His offering includes camping trips or “glamping”, a local Cape Peninsula tour, wine-tasting tours, sunset cruises, helicopter rides, hot-air balloon trips, West Coast and Garden Route tours and a seven-day tour to Namibia and then back to South Africa.

“It all started in 2010. I have a huge love for mountains and passion for working with people.

“So I joined an adventure tour operating company, Nomad Africa Adventure Tours, in the hopes of exploring our great country and beyond.

“I was a dishwasher at first and then worked my way up to be a cook for international clients.”

Petersen says the national lockdown was a blessing in disguise. His love for tourism and South Africa saw him setting up a business that would enable South Africans to experience and enjoy their own country just as much as thousands of international tourists do annually.

Petersen understands that exorbitant tourism costs make local travel difficult for the majority of South Africans.

“My commitment is to provide a service that locals can afford because I know what it feels like,” said Petersen, who is a frequent traveller.

He says his prices for the international market will be realistic.

“We cannot charge South Africans the same fares as the tourists who visit our shores with their stronger currencies,” said Petersen.

Meanwhile, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Tourism Organisation is forecasting a 60 to 80 percent decline in international tourism for 2020 and a drop of between $910-billion and $1.2-trillion in exports, with over 100 million direct tourism jobs at risk.

As many countries reopen their borders after months of closure, the journey to recover what’s left of the tourism season is well underway.

However, the threat of a second wave of infections will remain in the back of the minds of many travellers.

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