Millions of guests visit Africa yearly and asides from that Africans also visit other African countries for tourism. As good as tourism is, it might prove difficult sometimes when the traveler has difficulty in either booking his or her place or rather finding their way around the country of destination.
With technology, getting to navigate oneself on a tour shouldn’t prove a difficult task and that is what Afriktrip is doing in Africa.
Afriktrip a Nigerian startup co-founded by the duo of Ibukunoluwa Salau (CEO & CTO) and Angela Kagabo (COO) serves as one of the largest online marketplace for touring activity on the African continent. The startup offers travelers a convenient booking process, thus helping them save money.
With more than 1000 tours, activities and things to do in 28 African countries through local tour guides and operators Afriktrip is taking Africa to the World and bring the World to Africa through the use of technology and tourism.
We had a chat with Ibukunoluwa Salau, one of the co-founders who took us through a ‘tour’ on how Afriktrip is helping tourists through seamless tourism activity on the continent
In 2018, Ibukunoluwa had an interaction with a tour operator ( who was introduced by a friend) based in Lagos, Nigeria.
During the course of the chat centered around how tour companies work and the tourism landscape in Nigeria, Ibukunoluwa spotted a couple of challenges faced by the tour operator such as doing his operations offline and manually.
On finding out that this challenge is peculiar with other tour operators in Nigeria and across the African continent, he built a solution called Ontripp which failed.
He, therefore, took time out to work on other things and to do a lot of market research.
Leveraging the knowledge and relationships he had with tour operators and from previously building the Ontripp app, Ibukunoluwa decided to start Afriktrip.
After writing lines of code and launching a waitlist in February, Afriktrip became a private beta in April 2020.
According to Ibukunoluwa, the mission of the Nigerian startup is ‘Africa to the World and bring the world to Africa through tourism and Technology.’
“We also help hundreds of local tour guides and operators monetize their passion and knowledge while keeping the financial benefits of tourism in their local community.”
Afriktrip aims to achieve its mission by building an online marketplace that aggregates tours and activities across African countries and connects tourists from anywhere in the world with the local tour guides and operators that organizes them.
Travel and tourism in Nigeria
On the state of travel and tourism in Nigeria, Ibukunoluwa said that tourism has improved greatly in Nigeria over the last few years.
He attributed this to the emergence and amazing hard work of new local tour guides and operation companies such as Kollatunez Tours, TVP Adventures, Irinajo and many more.
“However, there need to be improvements in the recreational culture of Nigerians. The tourism market of Nigeria, like most African countries, is dominated by international travelers but we expect things to change as we go forward.
“The coronavirus pandemic has opened everyone’s eyes to the need of domestic travels as the countries that focused solely on international tourists made close to nothing.”
Ibukunoluwa also explained how technology can add travel and tourism in Nigeria.
“One of the areas through which technology can add value to the travel and tourism in Nigeria is through making it easy for people to discover things to do and that’s what we are doing at Afriktrip.”
According to him, there are lots of destinations that can be visited in Nigeria but the problem is that people don’t know these places and it reflects on Twitter.
“We have seen so many instances in the last few months where someone has posted an unknown tourist destination on Twitter and Nigerians were surprised that such a place exists in the country.
What we are doing at Afriktrip is showcasing Nigeria and Africa to the world. One of the problems of tourism in Nigeria is exposure and lately we have seen discoveries of various places via Twitter and when you read the comments, you see the disbelief in Nigerians that such places exist. If people don’t know that something exists, they can plan a holiday or visit there.”
According to Ibukunoluwa, two of the socio-economic challenges faced in Africa today is arguably unemployment and poverty.
He explained that online marketplaces basically remove the barrier of people not being able to get access to new skills, sell their products, services and many more online.
In an illustration, he said that a young Nigerian with access to the internet can sign up to Udemy which is an online marketplace for educational content and learn new skills that he can now put to work on freelance websites to make money. By doing this, he has a high chance of lifting himself and probably his family out of poverty.
Looking at tourism in Africa, Ibukunoluwa emphasized that most of the local tour guides and operators on the African continent are providing jobs for themselves and for people, and making money for their various communities via foreign exchange which can be used to build schools, medical centers and many more because of online marketplaces like Afriktrip that makes it easy for them to sell their local knowledge in form of tours and activities.
Ibukunoluwa stated that Afriktrip has partnered with over 350 local tour guides and operators across Africa.
“We’ve more than 1100 tours and activities available for booking on the Afriktrip platform in 28 out of the 54 African countries.”
According to Ibukunoluwa, the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down bookings, thus Afriktrip focused on the product and partnered with as many local tour guides and operators as possible.
“So far, the booking reservations we have received are worth $60,000 in Gross Merchandise Value. We’ve also been selected as a Pioneer Winner for January 2021.”