Bench Africa invited the trade to celebrate its 50th birthday yesterday with a long lunch at Sydney’s Quay restaurant.
The celebrations began with a heartfelt thank you from Bench Africa chairman Mike Kirkland, who bought the company, then known as Bench International, from Charles Bench in 2007.
“Making it to 50 years in any business is an enormous milestone and we don’t take it for granted. This is especially the case working in an industry and with a destination that we all know is temperamental in nature,” Kirkland said.
“Thank you for all the work that you do in inspiring travellers to Africa. The abundance of natural beauty and rich heritage is something that I truly believe every traveller should have the chance to experience at least once in their lifetime and I guarantee, they too will become ambassadors and in turn, safeguard the future of these captivating African countries.”
Attendees were entertained by a Kenyan dancer and a Guinean jembe player – or as he called it, an “African mobile phone”.
Perhaps the highlight moment was general manager Martin Edwards’ announcement that Bench Africa will be taking its hardworking staff on an African safari to say thank you for their contributions to the company.
Long-time safari partners Sabi Sabi Game Reserve are also celebrating their 40 year anniversary and it was decided to surprise the Bench Africa staff with a joint anniversary celebration to be held in the luxurious Sabi Sabi private lodges.
Announced to all staff last Friday on Bench’s 50th anniversary, this trip will see the company fly to South Africa on a whirlwind 5 day trip including safaris, fine food and many raised glasses to Bench’s 50 years.
“50 years is a remarkable achievement in any industry, especially one that can be as temperamental as African travel,” Edwards said.
“We all share a passion for Africa so for this special occasion why not share this experience with each other?”