Our panel of experts discuss how technology is expected to play an increasingly pivotal role in travel and tourism, accelerated by the advent of COVID-19.
Partner: The H-Web
Sakhile is the General Managing Partner at The H-Web, a boutique venture capital firm that funds startups that have the potential to promote African ingenuity, culture, and innovation across the African continent and beyond. Before that, he founded a music analytics company, at one stage the company was voted by Primavera Pro as one of the top 5 up and coming music startups in the world. His background is in global media intelligence with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations. He is a mentor at the Founder Institute Accra, and a Youth Ambassador for the World Summit Awards.
Dr Nomvuselelo Songelwa
Dr. Nomvuselelo Songelwa leads a centralised business intelligence hub and user platform for tourism in South Africa. Jurni empowers the tourism industry to make strategic decisions by providing credible information and insights through its online centralised digital platform. Her greatest task is to bring together the travel and tourism industry players through collaboration to provide multiple data.
With her strong leadership attributes and first-hand industry experience, it is fitting that Dr. Songelwa heads up this new ground-breaking public-private sector initiative, which aims to contribute to an inclusive, transformed, information-driven South African Tourism Industry through an automated, interfaced travel and tourism information system.
The initiative is expected to contribute to inclusive economic growth, job opportunity creation and transformation for all South Africans – a cause extremely close to Dr. Songelwa’s heart.
Founder & Chief Alchemist, Travelabs
Valentin started working in the travel tech industry in 2011 with his own startup dedicated to event travel. In 2013 it raised funding from Czech startup accelerator StartupYard and this funding helped the company to launch. At the end of 2013, the company was acquired by tours and activities platform Excursiopedia. He worked for the company until September 2015 and then launched Travelabs – a company which is focused on travel technology and startups consulting and events.
Throughout his years in the industry, Valentin has managed to build a substantial network and has been a speaker at few local and international events including Uzakrota Summit in Istanbul and Travel Tech Con in San Francisco.
He has organised the Travel Tech Conference Russia for three years and works with Russia’s largest tourism exhibition MITT on organising the session named MITT Digital.
Director: Jerusalem Entrepreneur Tourism Hub
Nofar is the Director of JETH (Jerusalem’s Entrepreneurs Tourism Hub) and Jerusalem’s Travel Tech ecosystem. In her role, Nofar leads Jerusalem’s start-up community in developing innovation and tourism technology, along with providing municipal support that implements existing initiatives and startups in Jerusalem’s market as well as the Israeli and international markets.
Nofar previously worked in the Prime Minister’s Office of communications with all Israeli and foreign media outlets. She accompanied the Prime Minister to a wide variety of events, engaged in speechwriting, issued press releases, and hosted international delegations, including President Trump’s and Vice President Pence’s visits.
Additionally, Nofar worked in the Ministry of Economy as a Coordinator for International Relations in order to strengthen the policy-making connections between Israel and Germany, creating new industrial relationships and hosting delegations. Nofar holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and International Relations, and an MBA, both from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Innovation Manager: Barcelona Hotels Association and Leader: Travel Innovation Hub.
Innovation Hub Travel Edition is building an extensive community in the travel and tourism digital innovation sector. They are connecting, sharing knowledge and resources with international hubs to foster the creation of powerful synergies and boost open-innovation initiatives in the industry.
Septi M Bukula
Founder: Seeza Tourism SME Network
Septi M. Bukula is a nationally recognised specialist in entrepreneurship and SME development policy in South Africa. He has undertaken numerous SME policy and programme advisory assignments in South Africa and other African countries. He regularly hosts prominent international conferences focusing on a broad range of SME development issues. In 2017 he established Seeza Tourism SME Network to promote the interests of tourism SMEs, with particular focus on facilitating domestic and international market access. In 2014 his company, Osiba Management, received South African Tourism’s coveted Lilizela Tourism Award.