My name is Phakamile Hlazo, I am a social entrepreneur and innovator in the African tourism sector. I am the founder of Zulu Nomad where our core purpose is to be an enabler to African tourism capacity and enterprise development at scale.
A 2019 World Bank Group study on Women-owned Tourism Enterprises in Sierra Leone found that only 16% of these enterprises were using email when conducting their business. Having travelled over 35.000 kilometers of the African continent by road, I believe that this statistic carries across several African countries. The adoption of technology is therefore nowhere near where it is required to be in order for small business owners in the African tourism sector, largely women and rural communities, to thrive in the digital economy.
What excites me the most about the travel industry is the truly transformative power for entrepreneurs and communities all over the continent. As African people we do not have many avenues with low barriers to entry towards economic emancipation than those offered in the travel, tourism, hospitality, heritage and culture sectors. The rise of the millennial and Gen Z travelers, with their need for authentic, immersive experiences, combined with the disruptive technologies in travel has driven opportunities in the tours and experiences sector to unprecedented levels.
I am thoroughly excited at the opportunity to provide direct access to market for tourism product owners for the first time in history, through the inAfrica Travel experiences marketplace. So much has been stolen from us as African people. Our history, our origin story, our culture, so much so that we ourselves have lost our way because we have lost sight of who we are. The inAfrica marketplace is a place for our historians, our artists, our healers to come through and showcase not just to the world, but to ourselves, who we are. We have an opportunity to reintroduce ourselves to the world, we have provided the platform, the community now has to show up, both as the owners of these tourism products as well as the primary consumers.
When onboarding onto inAfrica, experiences entrepreneurs are already provided a world class booking management system which allows them to create their itineraries, communicate with guests, and accept payment online. We are far beyond email communication at this point but we understand that we will have to meet African business owners where they are.
This September we launched the #LetsInnovate Tourism campaign which is aimed at closing this digital gap. The campaign is targeted at connecting tourism SMME’s to digital technology resources and tools, to train technology-skilled young people on agile project methodology for tourism tech and to promote the digital presence of all tourism product in South Africa. I believe that this will inspire digital innovation, and be an enabler to sustainably transforming the country’s tourism and hospitality industry into an equitable one. We aim to train 225 young people across South Africa by the end of this 12-month campaign, and in addition to mapping the key attractions in the country, we will be mapping South Africa’s 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and 90 women-owned businesses in and around these sites.
I look forward to sharing this journey with Tenson’s Community with Purpose!
By Phaka Hlazo, 6 December 2021