Africa Travel Week
Jon Howell

Behind the Mic with Jon Howell

Africa Travel Week is looking forward to welcoming Jon Howell to WTM Africa. Get a sneak peek into what makes Jon tick and what he is looking forward to at the show… 

Passionate about all things aviation, conservation and donation, Jon is paving the way to connecting the African continent.  

Taking off in 2012, Jon found his calling working in the African aviation and tourism events industries. After much inspiration, he created AviaDev, a content platform as well as an annual route planning conference in Africa, 2015.  

Navigating a new frontier, he established AviaDev Insight Africa in 2018, a podcast platform specifically targeted for the African aviation industry. Always on the move and keen to see aeronautics blast off, Jon co-founded the Aviators Africa Academy in 2018, curated Africa’s first virtual event for Aviation, Tourism and Hospitality, Africa Tomorrow in July 2020 and launched a monthly series of webinars in September 2021. 

With major accolades for his aviation enthusiasm, he is also a Global Ambassador for Gorilla Conservation. Proving his devotion, he climbed the three largest mountains in the UK, in a furry gorilla costume, all in the name of fundraising. Added to this, he participates in charity events for the less fortunate and was able to feed school learners for a whole year, just by running.  

Helping others land firmly on their feet is what motivates Jon, and we look forward to catching up with him at WTM Africa. 

What are you hoping could ignite enthusiasm on what you’re going to speak about (without giving away too much)? 

Aviation holds the key to connecting Africa not just to the world, but to itself. With the huge distances, limited alternative modes of transport and growing middle class, Africa is the last region of the globe to benefit from an explosion of aviation activity. We will be discussing how the tourism value chain can actively engage with the airlines and wider aviation industry to reconnect the continent and ensure Africa capitalises on the post-pandemic travel boom.  

What have you missed with regards to face-to-face contact in the events speaking space? 

Everything. I have delivered hundreds of online events, webinars and podcasts and nothing compares to the energy of being in a room with likeminded people that share the same passion. It’s where the magic happens. 

How did you come to do what you do? Tell us a bit about your career advancement. 

I have worked supporting African aviation development for the last 10 years. A previous role brought me to the continent, and I was hooked almost immediately. The idea that we can provide a forum to build economic prosperity to the continent drives me every day.  

Based on your five senses, what are you looking forward to most at the show this year: 

  • See: the magnificent Table Mountain once more 
  • Taste: the local seafood 
  • Feel: the energy and passion of the travel and tourism community 
  • Hear: the familiar chatter and buzz of the event 
  • Smell: the wonderful local wines 

What makes Africa unique? 

The friendliness of the people. 

What is the first thing you will do once you set foot in Cape Town? 

Run up Lion’s Head!  

Looking back at past events that you have been to, what business connection/relationship stands out that made it truly worthwhile? 

At World Travel Market in London, I was introduced to the head of the Gorilla Organization, a charity dedicated to supporting the conservation of mountain gorillas. I am now a global ambassador for the charity, undertaking many challenges – including running half marathons and climbing mountains in costume – and have been able to visit them in Rwanda and Uganda, which is a highlight of my life so far.  

Tell us a story about a past event where something truly memorable happened.  

When we delivered our AviaDev event in Cape Town, we undertook a charity run to raise funds for a local school feeding programme. We were overwhelmed by the response and were able to support 100 learners to have school meals for a full year. It showed that events are a force for good. 

Find me at WTM Africa: 

Topic: Why the Tourism industry holds the key to the recovery of aviation in Africa 
Date: 11 April 2022, 15:30 – 16:15 
Stage: Global Stage 

Africa Travel Week

Africa Travel Week (ATW) focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology. Shows include: ILTM Africa, WTM Africa, EQUAL Africa, ibtm AFRICA, Travel Forward, Sports & Events Tourism Exchange and African Tourism Investment Summit.