by Jerry W. Bird, Editor of Africa Travel Magazine
Mira's passion for Africa inspired countless others to greater achievements during her 16 year term as Executive Director of the Africa Travel Association (ATA). She entered my life in 1995, turning it in an entirely new direction by providing a positive way to bring the good news about Africa, Africans and ATA to the world. Our avenue of communication was Africa Travel Magazine in print and online. Thanks to her guidance and support, we made giant strides towards changing perceptions about Africa; presenting a far different picture from the negative news reports by the mainstream media. Through Mira, I received the "gift of a lifetime" - an opportunity to learn about Africa first-hand, from the inside, with personal introductions to tourism ministers, heads of state and hundreds of African travel and tourism professionals from across the continent and diaspora. Many of those I met at ATA Congresses, Symposia and Media Tours have become life-long friends and supporters.
ATA member and well known hotelier, Roger Kacou,
provides a fitting capsule of Mira's contribution with the
following statement, "Mira was one of these persons
that you would think, would be with us forever. Life
has decided otherwise, but she will be remembered
as THE ONE that has put the African continent on the
map. Her dedication to the Africa promotion was unique
and she will be difficult to replace. Our mandate is now to
honor her memory by fighting for the same causes that she
did, and try to further develop Africa tourism."
Tony Potter, CEO, CHI Hotels & Resorts: "There is much testimony to Mira's tremendous contribution to Africa, the hotel and travel industry and global PR. My memories and admiration all go to upholding these same tributes but my personal memories are far simpler and personally essential for life's journey. They are the fact that whenever I met Mira or was in her company, she always filled me with the sense of can do, will do and no matter how tough it gets I am here for you and to support you. She in fact filled me with so much confidence that I was left with a tremendous warm feeling that anything could be achieved. In many respects that is how I think of the Bradford Group and it is consoling to know that she has left so much behind in you all and that you have such a sense of loyalty and belief that there is nothing more sure that Mira's spirit will live on in you all. I hope these genuine words assist in your great pain but let us all give thanks for a great life and a great contribution from Mira."
IIbrahima Diallo, former Director General, National Office of Tourism, Guinea had these kind words: "In Guinea and in all of Africa this brave and dynamic woman will always live and keep her place in our memories. She will inspire our actions for the emergence and development of tourism. Mira has done for Africa much more than many Africans. She is African in her heart. Her Guinean friends surely hold a ceremony in her memory. The ATA Congress in Guinea is still alive. My condolences to the team and all friends of the ATA.."
Hon. Shamsa S. Mwangunga, Tanzania: "On behalf of the Ministry and myself, and also on behalf of the Tanzania tourism business community, I am writing to convey our condolences on the death of Ms. Berman. Mira was a long-standing partner in Tanzania's tourism promotion in the United States and worldwide and will be sorely missed by us all. I am glad that I was able to work with her since my appointment as Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism.
Louis D'Amore, IIPT Founder and President:"It is my great honor to have known and worked with Mira for the past 15 years, and to have presented Mira the first IIPT Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her illustrious career and particularly for promoting the magnificent lands, cultures and peoples of Africa to the world, and for building the Africa Travel Association into a robust organization that will continue nurturing the growth of peace and sustainable tourism development on the African continent."
Mira is listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Women, Who's Who in Advertising, The Financial Publicists Directory and Foremost Women in Communications. She served on the National Advertising Review Board of the American Association of Advertising Agencies. She taught Public Relations, Advertising and Radio and Television at the ASTA Congress and workshops. She served as President of SATH ( Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped), Executive Director of North American Travel Association and Women Executive International Tourism Association. She was a past director of The National Council of Women of the USA.
"Mira's loss will leave a big vacuum in our professional
and personal lives. We know that Mira will be remembered by
all those in Africa whose lives she has touched for her
passion and love for Africa and its people and her
commitment to pushing an agenda of increasing tourism and
investment to the continent in a sustainable and meaningful
way. All of us at The Bradford Group will continue our
dedication to the work she has done with the same commitment
and passion that she taught us to have, and that is her
enduring legacy she left for all of us."
Berman: Miracle Worker
Mira Berman was active on many fronts, serving as Executive Director of The Academy of Tourism Organizations (ATO) and its NOAH Awards Luncheon; Project Director for the Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped (SATH) and its Travelers With Disabilities Awareness Week. She served as: Vice Chair, Organization Committee for the 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner for the United Nations, and on the Executive Committee of the Celebrity Gala Ball to benefit the United Negro College Fund.
(above) Zakia Menghi, former ATA President and Tourism
Minister, Tanzania (left), Mira Berman (right).
A wide variety
Dhuyvetter, President TravelTalk Radio: This
year we have said goodbye to too many great people in our
travel industry and again this month, we feel the loss of
long time friend, mentor and leader in all things Africa,
Ms. Mira Berman. Mira was a long time friend of ours and she
was passionate about tourism in Africa. The African Tourism
sector advanced tremendously while Mira was at the helm of
the Africa Travel Association and her colleagues from around
the world will miss her bright light. The Africa Travel
Magazine has done a beautiful job in celebrating Mira's life
E.A.Aziz Gueye, Director, Senegal Tourist Office, USA: "We will definitely miss Mira a lot. I could not make it to New York early enough to attend her funeral that thursday.Instead I headed to her office one of the following days, and Karen let me in: I wanted to feel her spirit..That was the least I thought I could do for that great lady who devoted her life to getting the african destinations greater exposure.I felt her spirit, and with Karen we revisited a few among her many useful undertakings in her life. She lived a life fully committed to the good cause of promoting tourism and travel, i.e promoting a better understanding among human beings, irrespective of race, geographical location or social condition. Mira will be remembered. Forever."
Cam McLeay, Adrift, Uganda : "I am very saddened to hear of Mira's passing. She was a wonderful advocate for Africa and promoted the continent with dedication and passion. We owe her a depth of gratitude for helping to put Uganda on the tourist map."
Chi Jamma, Bro Sheikh Tejan: "She was the mother of all Africans and cared and shared her thinking on the way. African tourism should be managed and directed. She has been at the forefront of making Gambia a destination that will ever be remembered as "The Smiling Coast " and yes she did. May her soul rest in perfect peace. "
lived Lfe to the Fullest
With all of the preceeding accolades. awards and achievements in American business, Mira Berman will be best loved and best known for her outstanding success in Bringing the World to Africa - and Africa to the World.
truly become an Angel
on my shoulder.
Maria Mmari Director of Tourism, Tanzania: "My tears keep on flowing and my heart still aches.I fell in love with the dynamic, energetic, inspiring and loving lady the moment I met her on a site inspection mission when Tanzania was preparing to host the 23rd ATA Annual Congress in Arusha in 1998. She inspired me and I secretly made her my mentor. I was amazed by her sharp mind, determination and care. Mira's sweet smile still lingers in my mind. She was a darling to everybody she met. Mira has left an everlasting footprint in the development of tourism not only in Tanzania but in the whole of Africa. Her legacy will live forever."
Gifty Kwansa, Ghana Tourist Board: We have received with sadness the news of Mira Berman's demise. She will be remembered for her courage, steadfastness and passion for Africa. May her ideals live on and we wish her eternal rest
Enzio Rossi, Garen Group Hotels, Zambia: "It is with deep regret that we heard of the passing of Mira,Mira was very special and made friends everywhere, she was a grand Lady, she will be irreplaceble. She was a close friend and I am pleased to have met her. She embraced tourism in Africa as she would embrace a child. Go well dear Friend till we meet again."
Haury, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire: "Mira knew how to be
African. It was a great loss for our people, Africa and ATA.
I will say a mass for her at the Basilica of
Sylvia Frommer-Mracky, Travel Editor The African Times and owner of Production Travel & Tours: It's still such a shock that I can't bring myself to say the right words. I hope that she did not suffer and I hope she went knowing how many people around the world, especially in Africa, respected her intelligence and her passion for the future of all African countries...
Xen E Vlahakis, Lusaka, Zambia: "I am shocked and saddened at the passing of a pillar in African travel circles, as Mira Berman, whom I had personally known from ATA's foundation in Montego Bay, Jamaica in May 1974, to the last ATA Congress I had attended in Nairobi, Kenya was a vibrant dynamo and genuinely lovely and gracious personality. I had never once seen her speak in anger or entertain any negative comment about anyone. Together with late Murray Vidockler and Peter Muiruri and others, she made very substantial contributions to African tourism."
Wolfgang Thome., Uganda Tourism Association: "Thank you and God bless her soul"
de Lys, Bamako, Mali: "So Sad indeed. All my sincere
condolences to all of you."
Ogo Sow, Atlanta: " Karen Hoffman introduced me to Mira in 1999 at the occasion of the State and official visit of the former President of Tanzania in America and after that day Mira opened the doors of the mother continent Africa to me to learn about my own continent in terms of culture tourism,safari tourism,beach tourism, sports tourism,history tourism and business tourism ...to show the world that Africa is ready for business ....and ATA lost a great Leader in terms of helping Africans to work-together in terms of intra Africa tourism development and investment ."
Rev. Margaret Bolanle Idowu Fabiyi, Lagos, Nigeria: Sister Mira has left a good legacy - the African-American Tourism Vision of opening gateway to Africa in which many countries are benefiting today, by influx of tourists and increase in their foreign exchange earnings, friendship, happiness at ATA Congresses.
Francoise Kameni Lele, Cameroon: The whole ATA cameroon chapter members are very saddened to learn of the death of MIRA BERMAN ATA former Executive Director who passed away in New York.She was highly regarded in Cameroon , in particular, in Africa and world touism; and was known as the rock of AFRICA TRAVEL ASSOCIATION . She was a good woman and a wonderfull leader.