By Mike Tavares, Founder of Ojimah – What do Carnival in Angola, the largest church in the world found in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire, and Botswana’s very own $60 million Silicon Valley have in common?
That you have likely not been to either or maybe even all of them.
While Africa boasts thousands of must-see sights—54 nations with each country having unique history, culture and heritage and huge swathes of verdant land with unique flora and fauna, not to mention the sea life, wildlife and bustling, dynamic cities—the continent’s tourism potential is nowhere close to being maximized.
Even more unfortunate is that of each $100 spent by a tourist from a developed nation in Africa, only around $5 actually stays within the local economy. Compare this to other regions such as India which gets $60 or the Caribbean which gets $20 of each $100 spent.
This economic concept is called Tourism Revenue Leakage. It happens when there is a large-scale transfer of tourism revenues out of the host country at the exclusion of local businesses and products. Such leakages are a major hindrance to the economic, social and environmental development of the host countries.
At the same time, we know that customers have wanted change for a long time, whether via improved experience, convenience, personalization, or a user-centric interface from which to accomplish all their travel needs in one go. These were the reasons behind the creation of Ojimah three years ago.
We have developed a Travel Tech solution where SMEs are able to sell online to anyone, anywhere and to place tourism expenditure into the hands of local businesses. While online travel agencies are tech companies with general travel industry knowledge, Ojimah is first and foremost a customer-centric product of the tourism industry. We are building Africa’s Online Travel Booking Platform. To do so, we have put in place the right team that is passionate about the continent, built an innovative platform, and been securing solid Private-Public Partnerships. Through our dashboard, our partners are able to monitor tourism behaviours, the international traffic to specific destinations and more efficiently and effectively support the marketing efforts of their own countries’ sectors.
I have worked across various sectors of the tourism industry for close to two decades—rising from a receptionist role to global management for leading hotel chains. From working in academia to senior tourism consultant for African governments. In all these roles, I have grown to understand the challenges that industry stakeholders face and those that customers face.
By working closely with African Tourism Authorities and adding the endorsement of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), I believe that through a standardized tool like Ojimah, we can move that $5 to $50 and have the continent benefit from this economic surge, but also offer travelers a fun, easy, convenient, affordable experiences of a lifetime. After all, this is why Ojimah exists today, to create an alternative for the future.
First published in VoyagesAfriq