Africa’s tourism industry is growing and stakeholders are moving to capitalize on various trend shaping the sector. Jumia Travel’s Josephine Wawira shares her insights on how her side is responding to the continent’s lucrative and ever-expanding travel industry.
Wawira is a Consultant in Communication and Public Relations, with over 7 years of hands-on-experience. A highly motivated freelance writer with a special interest in travel, tourism, and hospitality with an aim to inform, educate, and inspire readers to sustainably travel and explore the world. She is also the PR Manager for Jumia Travel Kenya, Africa’s leading online travel agency.
According to a recent study by the East African Community (EAC) development office, Domestic tourism in Kenya and across East Africa is on the rise. How has Jumia Travel responded to these developments?
For a long time, Kenyans and East African’s in general have perceived traveling as a non-issue, due to the perception that it is a costly affair; and thus, only reserved for the bourgeois. With this understanding, Jumia Travel has and continues to strive to make travelling within the continent affordable for everyone, and especially for the African traveler; for both leisure and business. We have for instance contributing to the rise of domestic tourism, by providing exclusive ‘resident rates’ for Africans, as well as travel packages and frequent deals/discounts for both hotel rooms and flights. Our booking average price has reduced from approximately €150 in 2015, to less than €100 in 2017, with most of the customers being of African origin. The general picture in Kenya has also evolved, with local tourists’ expenditure standing at 61.7% vs 38.3% international spending, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
Among East Africa’s capital cities, Nairobi had the highest number of visitor arrivals in 2017, beating the likes of Kampala and Addis Ababa. Do Jumia Travel’s services cover other parts of Africa?
Yes. Since inception in 2013, Jumia Travel has expanded its operations across Africa, now active in 50 countries with 9 local offices. We boast one of the largest property inventories in Africa, with over 30,000 hotel listings in the continent and over 300,000 across the globe. In Kenya, we are now partnering with more than 2,000 hotels. We also work closely with hundreds of international and local airline companies.
What sets Jumia Travel aside from other booking agencies in the market?
Jumia Travel aims at simplifying the travel booking experience, by allowing users to compare prices and amenities in a fast and secure manner. With locally based customer agents to provide all time support to our customers, we are focused on providing high quality customer experience. The provision of travel packages and flights besides hotels, makes us a one-stop-shop in the continent.
The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) believes that many tourists are looking for both leisure and excitement whenever they travel. Do you believe Adventure Tourism is a marketable approach to meeting their needs?
Absolutely. Now more than ever, Kenyans have embraced the idea of exploring the country, and not just to relax but also for exhilarating adventures. One of the trends we have identified is that more Kenyans, especially the millennials are seeking more physically challenging outdoor activities in remote locations, represented by a 24.7 per cent according to a Saffir report. These come just behind the more spontaneous ones, represented by 29.6 per cent. As an online travel agent (OTA), Jumia Travel takes such factors as key influencers in providing personalized experienced for all our customers. We want to ensure that the needs of every traveler are met, thus being one of the reasons we introduced travel packages that involve tours and adventure activities.
Morongoe Ramphele – Deputy Director-General of Domestic Tourism in South Africa – says tough Visa regulations are a hindrance to the travel industry’s growth in the continent. She believes African countries need to open their borders for proper domestic tourism growth to be realized. Do you agree?
I couldn’t agree more. The issue of visa applications and strict border policies is one of the major challenges facing Africa in boosting domestic tourism especially. Yet, we can’t also ignore the fact that the continent is making impressive strides towards completely achieving the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 policy document that outlines seamless borders. The launch of the African passport in July 2016 allowing holders to travel visa-free to all 53-member states for instance, is a major milestone that is proof of the incessant efforts to implement an open-border-policy and enhance collaboration among the African countries. 23 African countries have scrapped or lessened visa restrictions for Africans, including Ghana, Rwanda, Seychelles, Mauritius, Benin, and off course Kenya in a recent move to issue Africans visiting the country with a visa on arrival. A recent hint by the Ethiopian Prime Minister to allow Africans to travel to the country visa free, is also an encouraging move that Africa is headed in the right direction. Reports including by Jumia Travel indicate that the adoption of visa liberalization policies could increase Africa’s tourism by 5 to 25%.
Kenya’s government has been working to improve the travel sector’s performance through its ‘Tembea Kenya’ programme. Do you think Jumia Travel has benefited or will benefit from the initiative?
As mentioned earlier, domestic travel and tourism is on the rise and campaigns such as Tembea Kenya have been a major boost for most industry stakeholders. Jumia Travel will continue being on the forefront in encouraging frequent travel among Kenyans, by providing the best price guarantee.
What are Jumia Travel’s plans for the near or distant future?
To continue diversifying our products and services to our customers. For instance, we plan to expand our offline agencies to reach more Kenyans who are still offline and convert them to online travelers.