Tech startups boosting African tourism sector

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Tech startups are flourishing across Africa, providing a welcome boost to economies and offering a fresh image of the continent to international tourists, according to WTM Global Trends Report 2015.

The report, released by World Travel Market in association with Euromonitor International, said the continent’s burgeoning tech startup sector was assisting the development of the tourism industry in unexpected ways.

Planned innovation cities such as Hope City in Ghana and Kenya’s Konza Technology City require investment in infrastructure, including transportation and education, while they all have plans for hotel developments, which hold potential for both local and international properties.

“The travel industry is likely to reap the benefits of technology startups with increased domestic, regional and international business travel to a variety of countries in Africa,” the report said.

Business air arrivals are expected to post a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of five per cent for South Africa and six per cent for Kenya over 2014-2019, according to Euromonitor International.

The increase of business visitors to the continent due to the tech hubs is also likely to have a knock-on effect and encourage more leisure tourists as facilities are upgraded and improved.

World Travel Market senior director Simon Press said the introduction of technology hubs in Africa can have a massive knock-on effect for the whole continent.

“Not only do they provide a huge increase of jobs and boost economy but it benefits the whole travel industry with increased flights and hotel bookings,” he said.

Caroline Bremner, head of travel at Euromonitor International, said Africa was entering a new era of innovation leading to greater economic and social benefits.

“The technology startups will also help change the perception of the continent to international tourists,” she said.

This greater number of visitors will see an increasing number of travel startups – see five of the best here. Mark Essien, chief executive officer (CEO) of Hotels.ng, believes the travel industry is benefiting from the increasing number of technology startups.

“The growing technology sector in Africa is helping to expand the travel industry. Easier online discovery combined with growing consumer confidence in online bookings has made it extremely straightforward for us to cater directly to travellers’ needs,” said Essien.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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