As prices for minerals rise, Africa’s business travel sector is benefiting and a number of firms are gearing up for a predicted boom in online travel. Sally White reports
Money is flowing into Africa again. The soaring prices for minerals (from copper to cobalt, gold and diamonds) of the last few months are beginning to restore its fortunes, and those of its online hospitality industry. Demand is rising for raw materials for mega government infrastructure and wealth creation programmes promised from China to the US. As it does so, Africa’s position as the World’s No.1 mining location is drawing to its cities international business travellers and conference organisers, along with the financiers.
There is going to be more money around to invest in Africa’s many tourist attractions, boosting the already rising incoming-traveller numbers: more money, too, for mobile phones and online business development. Inevitably, there will also be more expansion and M&A in the travel industry itself. A first major one has just come with the agreed merger of HotelOga and Savanna Sunrise.
African OTA Wakanow, has seized on the increasing interest in African holidays to announce plans for a UK office. This follows on its European launch of DestinationsAfrica®, a global booking platform that aggregates African packaged holidays from over 23 African countries. The US is among future new offices.
There are other signs, too, that activity levels are rising: at Africa Internet Group (Africa’s first unicorn), for example. This was founded by two of German tech incubator Rocket Internet’s top French executives and has also pulled in as investors major international funds and companies.
While the greater part of its business is in consumer goods and services, Africa Internet is now expanding and rebranding its OTA to Jumia Travel. Offering access to 25,000 hotels in Africa and 200,000 around the world and with offices in ten African countries, Portugal and France, it claims to be Africa’s No.1 hotel booking site. Jumia Travel has now integrated its flights and hotel booking on the same platform.
Most of Africa’s online marketing is for merchandise and services (such as jobs and real estate) rather than travel. So, with their specialisations, HotelOga and Savanna Sunrise regard themselves as hospitality technology leaders. Together, with their partnerships with Expedia, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, HotelBeds, CTrip and many more, they aim to form a giant African OTA.