African youth highlight innovative travel, tourism entrepreneurship trends at AYTIS 2023


Latching unto the variable platform provided by African Tourism Partners at the Africa Youth Tourism Innovation Summit (AYTIS) 2023 in  Swakopmund Namibia, young African entrepreneurs have unveiled innovative trends in the tourism and travel sector.

Speaking at panel discussions on the second day of the summit, the youthful entrepreneurs noted that travel technology is the deal for the tourism industry today.

The new trend, which is tagged TravelTech, takes after FinTech and enables tourism entrepreneurs to leverage technology in growing their businesses.

Explaining the trend, Musthafa Tijjani, founder and CEO, Aeropaye Smart Flight, a Nigerian-based travel company, noted that travel tech is not really a new trend but that the adoption in the travel and tourism business has increased tremendously in recent times.

According to Tijjani, tourism businesses are leveraging technology in doing their businesses because of the ease of doing business it offers, ease of payment, access to useful data, and research on competition.

While integrating travel into fintech is the way to go, Tijjani said that there is still a gap between the two, which needs to be closed and the AYTIS is offering that with the various master classes by experts at the summit.

For York Zucchi, chairman, of Start-up Tribe, Switzerland, and moderator of the ‘Mastering the art of capital raising’ panel of discussion, leveraging technology in the tourism business will ensure financial propriety by opening up the financial status of a business for auditing and to would-be investors for possible funding.

Collaborating with Zucchi, Robert Elman, DBN head, SME Finance at Namibia Development Bank, noted that tourism start-ups that are leveraging technology in their business are closer to getting funds for expansion than others because technology enables easy assessment of their businesses and claims. 

Another trend is risk sharing. 
To scale their businesses, many start-ups in the same line of business are now combining their strength, skills and funds, while reducing pressure from competition.

There is no harm in starting small, but build trust at your small level to enable others to see a reason to invest in your business, Zucchi noted.

“If your capacity is a 20-room hotel and you want to scale up, you don’t need to go for loans, instead seek collaboration with businesses within your level to pull all your resources together for a 60-room hotel. You will scale up easily with collaboration,” he advised.

As well, crowd-funding is working for young entrepreneurs, especially in Africa where bank high rates make repayment impossible.

Mikul Shah, co-founder, and CEO, of Purple Elephant Ventures, Kenya, noted that no business is an island, hence young entrepreneurs desirous of business expansion should seek funds from friends, family, associates, and like-minds when loans and other sources of funding are impossible.

“Start knocking on doors, speak to people and friends and funds will flow,” Elman advised.
Most importantly, custom-made products by the customers is the way to go.

“Gone are the days when you design with the guests in mind, rather than ask the guests what they want and how they want it. My most successful deals are the ones initiated by my clients and I only supervised their delivery,” Susu Nkumalo, a tour operator said.

Again, products targeted at generation z are selling like hot cake. Nkumalo noted that she was able to scale up her business delving into youth products such as selling music festivals, weddings, educational fairs, and sport tourism among others.


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