with Cris David, President Lion World Travel

Open Jaw

Where were you born? In Kimberley, South Africa, the epicentre of global diamond production.

How long have you been in the business? Since 1998, starting as national sales manager for Busabout, then a brand new hop-on-hop-off company in Europe.  

Why did you come to Canada? For love! My wife is also South African, and was emigrating with her family so I decided to make my life here.

How many people work for you? 20, all based in Toronto.

What’s the best part of the job? Being involved with sending people to South Africa, which is still most dear to my heart.

What did you want to be as a kid? Oh gosh. Maybe a writer? Or a university professor.

What was your first ever job? Working in the marketing department at Levi Strauss in San Francisco, where I went to University.

Any guilty pleasures? We’ll occasionally binge watch British period dramas like Downton Abbey and The Crown. I’m a real sucker for that stuff.

What’s your favourite airline? SAA, they are far and away the best carrier to Africa in terms of customer service, reliability and comfortable planes.

Favourite hotel chain? Red Carnation. They’re amazing.

What’s on your night stand? I am an avid reader - The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd and The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony. The paper versions!

What do people not know about you? I was on the career track to become a professor of sociology.

Any hobbies or interests? I have always enjoyed running, and working with my hands. I’m completely devoted to my three children, who are now 17, 12, and 9.  And I like to cook.

When are you happiest? On visits to South Africa, surrounded by my family.

What would you tell your 20 year old self? Think about your career more seriously.

Who do you most admire in the industry? The visionary founder of The Travel Corporation, Stanley Tillman.  

What’s at the top of your bucket list? I’m fascinated by Peru and would like to hike the Inca trail.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge for the industry in the next 12 months?  The outlook for the next year is very positive  -  but the challenges will come from insecurities that prevail in the world, both natural and some of the tense political scandals.

What do you hope to be doing in 10 years? I hope to be firmly at the helm of Lion World Travel ensuring that the current trend of real interest in Africa continues to grow!

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