Reconnecting Africa to the world

Connecting Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands with global travel trade.

There’s a saying that goes…

“You never know how strong you are until you have no other choice”

and that has certainly been true for many of us over the last couple of years.

When news of a new virus hit headlines in March 2020, we had no idea of the impact it would have on our beloved tourism industry. Certainly, nobody predicted that lockdowns, border closures and empty beds would go on for more than a few months – never mind over two years!

It was devastating to so many travel businesses, careers and livelihoods around the globe – not to mention all the lives lost to Covid-19.

But if you look hard enough, you will also find many positives…

We became more resilient. We streamlined, cut unnecessary expenses and wastage – diversified, upskilled, side-hustled and learned to be more agile in how we run our businesses. We had time to re-evaluate how we live our lives – and treat our planet. To value time spent with family, friends and our work colleagues.

Not to mention a new appreciation of the freedom to travel.

One of the best things we found was that a new spirit of collaboration was born as we realised we were all in this together. In fact, #StrongerTogether is the very hashtag that inspired what is today OurAfrica.Travel.

It all started with a small group of like-minded individuals who decided to do something proactive to fill the void left by all the cancelled trade shows in 2020.

It was a collaboration between Rudi Wagenaar, Storm Napier, Allie Hunt and the African travel community, who together reignited, reconnected and reinvigorated our Global Travel Trade industry at a time when we all needed it most.

Everyone pulled together in the spirit of ubuntu – volunteering their time, sharing resources, and coming up with ideas for the greater good.

There was no time for “What’s in it for me?”

It was ALL about the “we”.

Our first show was held over 3 weeks, across 3 different time zones in August 2020 and saw 321 exhibitors meeting with 1199 buyers with just under 21 000 virtual meetings.

In 2021, calls for a repeat performance were answered with another successful show, this time Storm and Allie were at the helm – in partnership with the African Travel & Tourism Association (ATTA®), Wetu, Nightsbridge and The Africa Hub.

The second 10-day show connected an impressive 340 exhibitors with 1,153 global buyers – and racked up nearly 24,000 meetings across 2 time zones and six continents! We logged 239,643 networking interactions and 125,473 profile views over the 4 weeks.

The feedback was phenomenal – and we couldn’t have been happier.

There are many things we are incredibly proud of.

The team of people and companies who pulled together to make it work. People including Rudi Wagenaar, Gisela Piercey, Jenna Rankin, Jett Rogerson, Mpho Tsotetsi, and the amazing humans at Digital Khaki, Raw & Wild, Wetu, Nightsbridge, Smart Octopus, Fernweh Media, The Africa Hub and Big Ambitions.

The exhibitors and buyers who jumped onboard, donated prizes and shared their stories and feedback with us.

How affordable the show is for both well-established brands and the “little guys” who don’t have big budgets for international marketing. The cost per meeting for an exhibitor was just over $3/R48, with buyers attending free of charge.

Accessibility – our platform is easy to use, inclusive to all travel trade, has good networking with the chat function and the ability to share news and interact on the event feed within the event, and everyone can manage their own calendars.

The entire event was also carbon-neutral – if not carbon positive – perfectly in line with the community and environmental causes, it helped to support and raise awareness of.

Now, whilst the world is slowly opening up now for travel – and we cannot wait to get back out there ourselves to network and meet in-person with our tourism colleagues – the success of our past two events indicates that there will still be a place on the travel trade event calendar for virtual trade shows in our ‘new normal’.

We cannot wait to see you all in February 2025!