Saturday, October 1 2022

The fourth edition of the Africa Youth in tourism innovation challenge and summit will take place in Namibia from July 27 to 29 in Windhoek.

The summit is organized by the Ministry of Environment and Africa Tourism Partners in collaboration with UNWTO.

The fourth edition takes place under the theme “Developing young people and innovative entrepreneurship solutions for the revival of inclusive tourism in Africa”.

Since its inception in 2019, the event has brought together the continent’s innovative young minds and come up with ideas to help grow tourism in Africa.

The 4th Innovation Challenge aims to empower young Africans aged 18-35 by providing them with business partnerships, market access, networking and mentorship; it further plans to provide funding platforms and solutions from the global marketplace, including UNWTO, Namibian business ventures, private sector, start-ups and fintech.

The summit also invites young people to participate in the challenge, with the winner of the Africa Tourism Innovation Challenge receiving a seed grant of US$1,000, while 1st and 2nd runners-up receive US$500, among several benefits.

New Era (NE) interviewed Luze Kloppers (LK), who is the 2020 Africa Youth in the Tourism Innovation Challenge finalist and founder of the Recycling Lab, which she founded in 2020 during lockdown.

The company recycles waste, especially the large amount of waste from the hospitality industry, into various products, such as farm fencing, trash cans and craft items.

He received the Africa Tourism Leadership Youth Innovation Award for his initiative in sustainable architecture and waste management.

NE: Who is Luze Kloppers?

LK: I am an architect and project manager, with expertise in eco-tourism, sustainable design solutions, anthropology and materials management. In 2020, I was awarded 1st Runner Up in the Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation Challenge for my proposal to create a circular economy in Namibia using recycling machines, built and designed to operate in rural areas.

I was also nominated as one of Namibia’s top three sustainable development goal (SDG) youth influencers and listed as one of Namibia’s moonshots by the Youth Program United Nations for Development. I am also a social media influencer, promoting ecotourism and green design solutions in the hospitality industry.

NE: What motivated you to apply for the Innovation Challenge competition?

LK: I was going through a very difficult time in my life, like many people during Covid-19, when I started looking for solutions for the hospitality industry and the many young unemployed people it was leaving behind. Having traveled and worked in over 15 countries, I was intrigued by the challenges of plastic waste in the hospitality sector – and because waste was considered “unnecessary”, this became my starting point. I had a proposal, the equipment and the tools, but no way of knowing if it could actually work. So I took part in the innovation challenge to test my idea and get mentorship and advice to develop it further.

NE: Why is it so important for young people to participate in the innovation challenge?

LK: Youth unemployment is something every young person thinks about. However, entrepreneurship is our best weapon to eradicate unemployment. The Tourism Innovation Challenge is not only an exclusive platform to showcase youth innovations and success stories, but also brings together like-minded people in the tourism sector. Now is a great time to collaborate and network to find people who can help you grow.

NE: What does this year’s Innovation Challenge theme mean to you as an innovator?

LK: The theme, “Developing an entrepreneurship solution for young people and innovation for the revival of inclusive tourism in Africa”, makes me very enthusiastic. As an innovator and problem solver, I always wonder why things work a certain way and try to find new solutions to make something better. But it is still widely believed that women do not work in professions associated with innovation and lack the confidence to carry out innovative work. I am determined to challenge these beliefs. Innovation is about pushing boundaries and striving to do things differently. Young women bring a fresh perspective to the world of innovation and should not be discouraged from adding their value.

NE: Entrepreneurship and innovation drive industries and economies. Young people do not receive enough support to fully realize their big innovative ideas. Describe the challenges facing innovation in Africa?

LK: The main challenge for entrepreneurs is not necessarily the lack of funds, but rather the lack of business management skills and how to leverage relevant resources. Young people don’t necessarily have all the necessary experience of what works and what doesn’t. And once we hit a roadblock, we give up. Therefore, Africa should not invest only in ideas; Africa should invest in people – passionate, committed and resolutely focused people who would stop at nothing to make things happen. Anyone can submit a flashy proposal, but not everyone can pass when the going gets tough. So the problem is not that there are no innovative ideas or funds to implement the ideas; what holds young people back and demotivates them is the lack of guidance, support and mentorship.

NE: This year’s summit will include a desktop expo, focused on showcasing youth empowerment initiatives; Business offerings from SMEs, including tour operators, tourist accommodation facilities, transportation service providers, start-ups, and travel and marketing technology incubators; employment agencies, professional development and more. What is your position on this?

LK: It’s very exciting that the summit has grown so much in recent years.

NE: What do you see as the benefits of technological advancement in tourism, and how can the sector leverage these benefits to advance tourism?

LK: Social media and other technologies in the tourism space have valuable contributions, such as promoting available products, showcasing destinations, collecting data and building trust.

NE: Namibia has seen an increase in tourism which has dropped by 89.4%. How will this summit restore confidence and reactivate the tourism sector to rebuild a more resilient tourism economy in the future?

LK: Rebuilding tourism in Namibia is a priority, and the summit offers an opportunity to redesign tourism for the future. Tourism is at a crossroads, and the measures put in place will shape the tourism of tomorrow. Namibia must consider the longer-term implications of the crisis, while capitalizing on digitalisation, supporting the low-carbon transition and promoting the transformation needed to build a stronger, more sustainable, inclusive and sustainable tourism economy. resilient.

NE: Why is it important for a country like Namibia to host this summit?

LK: Namibia is said to be the soul of Africa. The vast land of rolling dunes, swirling mists and breathtaking views you won’t find anywhere else on earth. Hosting the summit in Namibia offers many people the opportunity to experience the hospitality of the Namibian people and learn from their wisdom. The summit highlights Namibia and all it has to offer.

2022-07-25 Staff reporter


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