Some leading lights in the African tourism and hospitality landscape have called for the need for sustainable intra-Africa business collaborations and networking platforms in order to create more viable opportunities, engender competitiveness among the players, and boost industry growth.
The industry stakeholders made the call at the ongoing Africa Tourism Leadership Forum (ATLF) 2023, which opened yesterday in Gaborone, Botswana.
According to them, the continent’s tourism industry needs vibrant exchanges, purposeful collaborations, skill improvement, crowd-funding models and good corporate governance to fully harness the untapped potential of the industry and to be at par with its global peers.
Highlighting the industry challenges and proffering solutions at the trading and training sessions of the Forum on theme, “Transformational Entrepreneurship and Intra-Africa Business to Business Networking Sessions,” Hamza Farooqui, CEO/founder, Millat Investments, shared valuable insights into sustainable tourism entrepreneurship models, while insisting that African entrepreneurs should rethink the idea of owning majority shares in a small business than having a small stake in a robust global business.
Citing instance with his company that owes over four hotels managed by Hyatt Hotel brand, Farooqui said, “We need to adopt investment models that are workable in the tourism industry, learn from thriving destinations and industries, and most importantly, network across the continent”.
Speaking further on sustainable business models and need for collaboration, Wambugu Wa Gichohi, a renowned Kenyan franchise consultant, highlighted the intricacies of franchising in the tourism sector and also offered the stakeholders some of the successful models that have grown hospitality entrepreneurship across the continent.
Speaking at the event’s interactive session, Barry Clemens, CEO of Hospitality EQ, who lives and operates in East Africa, noted that African tourism businesses should learn from the best corporate governance and management practices, especially from Asia where businesses outlive their founders and grow from family to global businesses.
“We can achieve that in Africa and in the tourism sector if we pull our strength together at a continental level, exchange and look after each other,” he said.
Lesedi Nduna, senior lecturer, Applied Management and Tourism, University of South Africa, unveiled how the Women in Tourism Entrepreneurship, an initiative supported by the university, has used effective business collaboration platforms to grow Agritourism and helped women to explore opportunities within the broader tourism industry.
She noted that the gathering of like-minded women has been able to develop sustainable tourism businesses that are attuned to the needs of their local communities and clients and create jobs and wealth.
Earlier at the official opening ceremony, Slumber Tsogwani,
Botswana’s vice president urged African tourism businesses at the forum to network more and grow the business relationships beyond the forum with collaborations that will create more jobs and wealth, improve skills and grow the industry.
He highlighted some of his country’s milestones at encouraging foreign direct investments, especially from within the continent, while assuring investors more open doors in Botswana.
On her part, Philda Nani Kereng, Botswana’s Minister of Environment and Tourism, highlighted the need to synchronize tourism-related sectors to fully open up opportunities for industry stakeholders and young people, especially in the SMEs space.