In the bid to diversify the pressure on the oil and gas sector and create other economic drivers in Nigeria, tourism has been suggested as a potential gold mine. However, it is not one that is immune to disruptions like the pandemic and its attendant restrictions. As a middleman industry, such disruptions spill over to other sectors, whose operations are interconnected.
Speaking during the weekly Nairametrics Business Half Hour show, Nsidibe Etim, Founder of Book Africa Travels, explained that travel restrictions had an impact on several local industries.
“To start with, the airlines shut operations and this affected the petroleum sector. Travels were put on hold and there were no tourists to patronize the local restaurants, and this in turn meant that the local restaurants no longer had reason to patronize the local farmers, and a lot of the harvest went to waste,” he explained.
Even after lifting restrictions, people are still afraid to travel. So, tourism is yet to pick up as people are still afraid of moving.
Unlike several other tourism platforms, Book Africa Travels simply connect the locals to the tourists – to create a local experience for them. It provides a digital platform to customize and book authentic activities and experiences in Africa, connecting the world to the best African experience, particularly its history, culture, and food.
This achieves two things: giving tourists a local experience at an affordable rate, and creating sustainable income flow for several local businesses.
On Book Africa Travels
For quite a long time, Africa has been promoted to the rest of the world as a Safari destination only. While this was quite attractive, it was also discouraging for tourists who did not have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on their tours.
Book Africa Travels was inspired by this gap in Africa’s tourism and travel space and started out as a platform to connect local experts and businesses with the tourists, who seek a local experience. According to Nsidibe, the platform is not just a ticket booking platform but is out to show tourists that they can travel to Africa on a budget and still get an amazing experience.
“Tourism is not just about traveling to a place, doing your business and returning. Book Africa Travels is out to expose tourists to much more in Africa, and help them to do more, experience the food and culture, do local shopping, and get the full local experience.
“We want our travelers to experience the place just like any local would. You could have a local tour expert that would take you around, because that is what traveling is all about, experiencing the world,” Nsidibe explained.
Being a digital platform, Nsidibe bootstrapped Book Africa Travels since it did not need a lot of capital. “For the first one year, we were reaching out to many people in different African countries, analyzing what they had in the local market and what they could offer to tourists,” Nsidibe said.
The company makes its profits from commissions made on sales to local experts and businesses, and all bookings on our platforms. “We ensure that they go with a pricing plan that suits their operations, and still allows us to make a profit of commissions that will be enough to keep us running.”
The AFCFTA has been billed to take off fully in January 2021 and this will connect more African countries to do business without tariffs and unnecessary taxes. This will directly increase business travel to and within Africa, giving African countries opportunities to promote local content.
“We intend to give business travelers a local experience, while they are also trying to get business done,” Nsidibe said.
Nigeria needs to expose more of its culture and history to the rest of the world, just like other African countries are doing, in order to encourage travels just like is seen in Ghana, Rwanda, and Kenya. This way, it will effectively tap into the connections which Book Africa Travels establishes with the rest of the world.