South Africa’s hi-tech tour operator


Imagine being in a foreign country, sitting on a tour bus, and having the possibility of borrowing a tablet computer to get online and call home to tell your family about your trip, or being able to charge your mobile phone while an expert tour guide shows you around.

That is the kind of technological feat that won Shaheed Ebrahim, owner of the Escape to the Cape tour company, the 2011/2012 Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year award in South Africa.

Last year, about 4.5 million tourists visited Cape Town, so there is fierce competition to attract customers from this growing market.

"There are hundreds of tour operators out in Cape Town but the difference is that we've taken technology that's available and put it onto our tours, thereby enhancing the tours," he told the BBC's series African Dream.

"What's the technology I'm talking about? Wi-fi on a moving vehicle, so somebody could be taking a photo, say of Table Mountain, and as you drive into the next spot, they could be Facebooking it and Tweeting it, and emailing it to anybody," he explained.

He added that his company also provides customised telephony applications on board. "With Skype they could call whichever country they want to. We've got applications for the US clients so they can call a landline or a mobile number in the US from the complimentary iPads that we have on the vehicle."

Escape to the Cape has also thought about something which can be a real nightmare for tourists in many parts of the world - finding the right adaptors for their electric equipment.

"Every seat virtually has got a facility to charge any device - whether it's a cell phone, whether it's an iPod or iPad, whatever device that they have, and in all about 12 gadgets could be charged simultaneously," the entrepreneur said.

Besides the communication technology, there is also a fridge on board for the clients to use, and he offers them complimentary water or a taste of some of the world-famous Western Cape wines.