Panel discussion

Future challenges and opportunities


Mohamed Baba

ILIOS Travel

After finishing school, Mohamed decided to explore opportunities that fuelled his passion: adrenaline and people. At the time, many opportunities in the industry were closed to black people so he turned to one of the few legal opportunities available – the taxi industry. “The volatile nature of this business quickly taught me how little I knew and kept me humble and greedy for learning curves.”

With the dawn of democracy in 1994, new opportunities were arising and these together with increased conflict in the taxi industry accelerated his move into the tourism industry. A year later, in conjunction with his then business partner, Mohamed started Legend Tours with two vehicles and a contract with a city hotel. “We started at the lowest end of the tourism value chain and really paid our dues but in less than three years, the business had grown considerably.”

“I realised that the business I had initially established was very different from the one I was running, and I needed a new approach.” In 2004, Mohamed found the courage to shift the focus of his business from service provider, to one that encompassed a collaborative partnership with his clients. Thus, ILIOS Travel was born out of a fleet of 20 vehicles, 40 staff and the mantra: “How can we add value to the partnership of your business and ours through our service”.  

Today ILIOS Travel is the largest privately owned and run tour operator business in South Africa with operations across the country and has grown to include a fleet of 132 vehicles and over 240 employees nationwide. “We intend to keep growing and improving whilst at the same time retaining the dynamic and determined mindset that has brought us this far and will hopefully take us so much further.”