Penny Lotz, Freelance Consultant at “The Product Manager”, was first introduced to Bunny Bhoola at a young age, working under her as a travel agent. “This was at a time when Bunny Bhoola was quite small, but since then, she’s become quite the powerhouse in the industry.” Says Penny Lotz. “It was a great grounding, to see someone really entrench themselves in an industry; to cement their brand as a person, and an icon when I was young.”
Penny stresses that it was so inspiring to see a woman of colour, like Bunny Bhoola, thriving in the industry during that time. “Since then, she’s always supported my career.”
To help inspire others in the trying times of our current climate, Penny Lotz shares three critical characteristics that have helped her along the way. “You need to be brave; you need to be sure of yourself, and most importantly, you have to be confident in your knowledge and expertise.”
Who is Bunny Bhoola?
Bunny Bhoola has been working as the CEO of “African Link Travel and Tourism” for the last 25 years. She elaborates that, “It’s evolved over the years into providing both DMC work for clients, alongside a strong involvement in tourism development; specifically, heritage and political tourism.” Bunny believes her birthplace, Pietermaritzburg, to be the centre of the democratic universe.
“No city can claim to have Gandhi himself, thrown off the train, nor Mandela being arrested on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg.” She emphasises her passion for the city. “I’ve seen the potential in promoting the footsteps of both Gandhi and Mandela.” This wonderful potential can be found alongside the ‘Freedom Route’. Following the paths of Gandhi, Mandela, John Dube, Albert Luthuli and Alan Paton.
Alongside many stakeholders, Bunny also operates a tourism training academy. Over the last 20 years, she’s been involved with TVET, and DUT colleges, providing in-service training for many interns. “But we’ve found so many gaps. The individuals of these institutions have had no on the ground experience.” She tells us that they come in with beautiful certificates but are left behind when faced with the practical aspects of the industry. Because of this, and to provide the youth with a helping hand, she’s introduced the African Link Training Academy – offering all the necessary experience and knowledge to succeed in our industry.
In times of Covid, Bunny’s primary focus remains that of promoting the Freedom route, alongside upskilling, and building the confidence of our passionate youth – whom she cares for deeply.
The connection between Penny Lotz and Bunny Bhoola
“Penny started working with me, I believe, 15 to 20 years ago.” Says Bunny. Although today, they’re focused on their own respective crafts. Bunny tells us that two years ago, she was fortunate enough to work alongside Penny once again.
“She’s a very proactive, innovative young lady.” Both Penny and Bunny collaborated on a conference in Cape Town. Bunny continues, “She took over one of the conference sectors, and I’d so much confidence in her ability, there was no reason for us to guide or monitor her. In fact, she was the one guiding and monitoring us in other aspects of the conference.”
Bunny informs us that they’ve got a very long friendship, built of years of collaboration, ideas and dreams of the future. “In our industry, you need to have people that believe in and support you, and for that, I know I can count on Penny.”
Bunny Bhoola’s final message
One of the most exciting things for Bunny is that, alongside collaboration with many incredible partners. She believes that the future will bring a new generation of “highly energetic, and passionate young people, that were needed in the industry.”
“We’ve just come from Freedom Day – There’s a lot of hope.”
Watch outr conversation with Bunny Bhoola here.