With our 2021 AGM approaching, we are sad to be saying farewell to a few of our esteemed board members. Today, we chat to Fatima Anter, our outgoing board member who represented iconic Cape Town attraction Cape Point for the past two years on our board:
What drew you to working with the AAVEA board and conference organizing committee?
Fatima: I’ve always been in the tourism industry and once I started working at an attraction, I found that there weren’t any local platforms for attractions to get statistics, research findings and just general information. I found the partnership we had with a few other attractions quite useful because we could exchange information and gauge how our attraction was doing. So, when I heard about AAVEA and attended my first conference, I was blown away by the wealth of information that can be shared amongst attractions and fact that we (attractions) weren’t taking advantage of it. So when an opportunity came up to be on the board, I applied immediately – I wanted to be a part of this game-changing organisation.
Having served during a pandemic, what are the 2 key lessons you’ve learnt working with us?
Fatima: The importance of adaptability. AAVEA had to change its entire conference model due to the pandemic – it was a phenomenal virtual conference, considering it was the first time for AAVEA. I was in awe of what the team managed to pull off, not having any previous experience.
Resilience: it’s been a rough ride for the association, and even when things looked dire, the team stuck together and worked hard to make our monthly virtual chats and the annual conference work. There’s still lots to do but I’ve learnt that resilience is key – especially in the times we’re in now.
AAVEA has done quite a few cool things during the lockdown, including contributing to the TBCSA safety app, been vocal in our #StaggeredSASchoolHolidays lobbying campaign, held two successful virtual conferences and released the first-ever attractions benchmark survey report. What was your experience like, working at the coalface of all of this?
Fatima: I was in awe of Sabine and the rest of the team. The staggered holidays was always something I heard about before I joined AAVEA and it’s really exciting to know that we managed to achieve something we set out to do. I’m also really proud of the benchmark survey the team managed to release and I hope that it becomes a regular report with more attractions participating. It instilled a sense of pride that I was on the board at the time we achieved all these things. It’s also taught me that, to be on the board, you have to actively be involved and offer help, advice, resources and services wherever you can.
What advice do you have for attractions professionals applying to be an AAVEA board member?
Fatima: You need to be prepared to do the legwork – it’s not just about discussions, advising and planning – it’s about implementing, coming up with solutions, even cold-calling if you have to. Avail yourself for all the virtual chats, give input for newsletters, offer any additional skills you have to the team. Whether you’re good at design, just taking notes, have great connections, are good at public speaking or even just are a good coordinator – offer any skills you have because the team can use it. Don’t be shy to give suggestions – no matter how crazy they might seem.
The call for nominations to serve on the 2022/2023 AAVEA board is now open. We’d love to have you apply!