WiT (Web in Travel), the leading travel tech conference and media in Asia Pacific, is bringing its event to Africa with the launch of WiT Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, on May 28, 2020.
“The time has come for Africa in the online travel space,” said WiT founder Yeoh Siew Hoon. “The rest of the world is excited about African opportunities and the dynamism of the region echoes what we have experienced in many of Asia’s emerging markets – fragmented, diverse, connected and full of promise – and we look forward to learning how the industry is changing and growing on the continent.”
WiT, which has been running its signature conference in Singapore since 2005, also runs editions in South Korea (Seoul); Japan & North Asia (Tokyo), as well as Middle East (Dubai) and its events, are considered an important catalyst for growth of the online travel industry particularly in the emerging world.
“With our roots in Asia, we understand the characteristics of emerging markets and the headroom for growth with a young, urban, rising middle class demographic – often highly social, highly mobile – and we are excited to connect the dots between what is happening in Africa with Asia, and see if there are lessons to be learnt for mutual gain,” said Yeoh.
WiT events focus on how technology is changing customer behaviour and how travel companies have to evolve and adapt. It’s known for championing innovation and fostering startup ecosystems by bringing startups and investors together and for building bridges between regions and global markets. Its content typically blends global oversight and expertise with local insights to ensure its relevance to local players.
WiT is making its African debut with three Foundation Sponsors: Travelstart, Wego and Cleartrip. “Our Foundation Sponsors represent visionary global travel brands that have invested in African markets for many years and have deep local knowledge. They are familiar with the WiT brand and our values and have demonstrated a solid commitment to the development and growth of the online travel sector in the region,” Siew Hoon said.
Travelstart founder and CEO Stephan Ekbergh said, “Without a doubt, WiT is a highlight of the conference calendar and I have been fortunate enough to attend their events as both speaker and audience member over the years. The level of quality, enthusiasm and expertise Siew Hoon and the WiT team bring to their gatherings is unrivalled and I am thrilled that they are pinning a stake on African soil in 2020.”
Wego co-founder and CEO Ross Veitch added, “Attending a WiT event is like doing an online travel master class focused on a particular geography and so I’m really looking forward to attending the inaugural WiT Africa in Cape Town next May and to learning more about the opportunities presented by a population of some 1.2 billion people, many of who are entering the digital economy for the first time.”
WiT Africa, to be held at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, is expected to attract up to 200 delegates who can expect to learn about how rapid digitisation is creating choice and affordability for a diverse set of customers, and how they must adapt.
In addition, the programme will emphasize Africa’s startup ecosystem and how it is evolving and creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Margaret Feng, Head of Oasis Lab, Ctrip’s Innovation Division, for instance, noted the growing interest of Chinese companies in Africa. “China is the largest financing country for infrastructure in Africa, with an average investment of US$11.5 billion from 2012 to 2016, accounting for 15% of the total financing.”
Travel companies, she said, were looking towards Africa for the next wave of growth. “Africa is a very far but exotic destination for Chinese travellers. When the infrastructure improves, we firmly believe more Chinese travellers would like to explore this continent. To follow their lead, we are keen on the development of Africa.”