The Thornybush Collection’s CEO Nic Griffin, at the ripe age of 73, has chosen to step down, passing the reins to Joanne Dickson.

Griffin, who has been at the helm of Thornybush for 11 years, will continue to be involved in the business as the custodian of the longstanding relationships across the Thornybush Collection with trade partners and suppliers. Dickson has 25 years of experience in the travel industry, most recently as Managing Director and CEO of Go2Africa.

Griffin says he is retiring at a time when the company is flourishing. Under his tenure, the Collection grew from three to 12 lodges. With more than 30 years’ experience in marketing at Avis prior to joining Thornybush, Griffin says it was the first time he had been given the opportunity to run a business.

“We thank Nic for the amazing legacy he has built within Thornybush and it has been a great privilege to work with him. We are thrilled that he will not be leaving us entirely and look forward to working with him in his new capacity” says Andy Payne, Chairman of Thornybush Collection.

 A bright future

Both Dickson and Griffin are optimistic about the future of tourism in Southern Africa. Griffin says: “We are in a better space than we were six months ago.” Dickson cites the numerous mentions of tourism by President Ramaphosa and recent changes in visa requirements for some source markets as positive steps, believing this bodes well for the industry.

The industry is changing, she says. “It is undergoing technological disruption and we need to meet the technological requirements of our partners.”

Over the last decade, staff at Thornybush have developed into the driving force behind the business, says Griffin. This will continue to be a focus. “Long-service has grown to seven or eight years for lodge managers,” he says, believing the ability to recruit, manage and support staff is key to the staff’s success.

Another priority is community engagement, says Dickson, who hopes to grow current engagement and projects. This includes involvement at schools and with entrepreneurs in communities surrounding the reserve.