Coffee Time with Industry Vets: Sherwin Banda

Sherwin Banda, president of African Travel, Inc.
Sherwin Banda, president of African Travel, Inc.

Think you know Sherwin Banda, think again….

There’s more to Sherwin Banda, president of African Travel, Inc., than meets the eye, so we decided to ask him those comical, personal and telling questions to reveal the man behind the suit.

Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa Sherwin has worked for nearly 15 years in the hospitality industry in positions in South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Southern California. Before becoming the president of African Travel, Inc., Sherwin served as the general manager of The Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town where he helped achieve 60 percent revenue growth—a feat in Cape Town’s highly competitive hospitality industry. This you could have read in a press release statement, but did you know that watching and hearing the water fall over the edge of Victoria Falls led him into the travel industry, or that Sherwin’s husband is his favorite traveling companion because he acts as a luggage assistant and a comic relief? We’ll let him explain in the Coffee Time With Industry Vets Q&A series.

Where did you go on your first trip and how old were you?
I traveled with my grandmother to Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe. I was 4 years old.

What is your most vivid travel memory?
Seeing gorillas for the first time in the wild in Uganda will always be one of my most favorite travel experiences of my life. The fact that these animals recovered from near extinction is a miraculous story in itself but coming face to face with these primates was breathtaking.

What was the “Aha” moment that led you into the travel industry?
Watching and hearing the water fall over the edge of Victoria Falls has forever changed my life for so many reasons. I remembering saying “everybody has to experience this in their lifetime.” Something stirred within me that day and I live to share it with the world.

Where did you go on your honeymoon?
The Palace of the Lost City at Sun City in South Africa.

What was your favorite trip you took last year and why?
Returning to England was a special and meaningful experience. The place of our first home as a couple was in London and to revisit some of the places we’ve enjoyed was simply magical. The country is steeped in so much history and has some of the best dining experiences in the world. I was in a permanent food coma.

Where would you like to go that you have yet to visit?
I would love to visit Cuba before it becomes a tourist haven. I might be too late already! We know so little about the destination, which makes it even more exciting to experience for myself.

Do you always buy a souvenir the first time you visit a destination?
Absolutely—I love buying a piece of traditional clothing from the destination I have traveled to.

Sherwin with his husband and son.
Sherwin with his husband and son.

You can tell us – do you collect magnets from the destinations you’ve visited?
I love to buy a gift for my son everywhere I travel. This is great enjoyment for me.

What do you do to pass the time on the plane ride to your destination?
Since I am dad to a 4-year-old and never watch any movies, my favorite activity to pass time is to catch up on the latest blockbusters. It is also the perfect opportunity to catch up on e-mails.

Who is your favorite travel companion?
My husband for two reasons—I always have a luggage assistant and he makes me laugh.

If there were one hotel room in the world you could call home the rest of your life, which would it be?
A sea-facing room at Red Carnations The Twelve Apostles in Cape Town, South Africa. Watching the sky transform from sunrise to sunset from my room is truly a heavenly treat.

If you were a destination, which would it be and why?
Botswana! The vast expanse of the Kalahari desert is punctured at its heart by a lush tropical oasis. Its river arches swell with the rains attracting wildlife in abundance. Yet by the end of the dry season all the water is simply gone. This amazing destination has to be on everyone’s bucket list.

What is the best food you’ve had on a trip? The strangest?
Ostrich steak while on safari in Kruger has to be my favorite dish to eat. An incredibly versatile red meat with half the fat of chicken, ostrich makes a delicious steak. The strangest food I ate was balut, which is a duck egg with a developing embryo which is boiled and eaten from the shell.

What can’t you travel without?
My iPod and iPad. Music transcends me to a sacred place and without it I would be miserable. My iPad documents my travel by archiving my pictures while keeping me connected with family and friends.

Who is the most interesting person you’ve met while traveling?
Traveling through my birth country, South Africa, I met Archbishop Desmond Tutu. This amazing man who changed the hearts of a broken nation during one of the most tumultuous times in our history.

Tropical beach or snowy mountain?
As a native from Africa there is no debate—tropical beach.

City or countryside?
Countryside. Being able to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life is a rare and beautiful treat.

Want to “hang out” with Sherwin on social media? Connect with him @SherwinBanda on Twitter and on