Director of Audit: Wealth, Investment Management and Insurance, Absa. South Africa
Founder, Spree Rwanda. Rwanda
Founder: Programmes Leader, Dreamcatcher South Africa
Managing Director, Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), Ghana
Founder, Evolvin Women, Dubai
Chief Executive Officer, Hospitality EQ, United Kingdom
CEO Ghana Tourism Authority
Chief Convention Bureau Officer, South African Tourism
Associate Director BDO South Africa
Country Lead Entrepreneurial Solutions Partners, LLC (ESP) Gabon
Co-founder and Director Entrepreneurship Solutions Partners Canada
Director – BDO South Africa
Program Partner, Mastercard Foundation
Senior Lecturer& Coordinator, MSc. Hospitality and Tourism University of Ghana
Founder and CEO SME TradeLinks (Pty) Ltd, South Africa .
Director - Regional Department for Africa United Nations World Tourism Organisation Spain
Executive Secretary Ghana Tourism Federation
Owner and Founder Merchantry Worldwide (Pty) Ltd South Africa
Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Ghana
Director of Operations Valor Africa
Chief Director Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Ghana
Managing Director AviaDev, UK
Founder & Principal Consultant Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda Kenya
Associate DIrector, Hanga Ahazaza Initiatve Cornell University
UNWTO Communication Expert on Africa and Founder and Publisher of Africa’s
Director, BDO, South Africa
Professor of Tourism and International DevelopmentAcademic Lead - Responsible Futures Research and Enterprise Agenda
Lecturer University of South Africa
Director - Innovation, Education and Investments UN World Tourism Organisation
Associate Professor and Certified Meeting Professional. University of South Africa
Founding Director Hasso Plattner d-school, University of Cape Town
Founder, Seeza Tourism Growth Network, South Africa
Managing Director Inkomoko Entrepreneur Development Rwanda
CEO, Rainmaker Digital, Namibia
Founder and Chairperson Centre for Unconventional Entrepreneurship
Director Of Audit: Wealth, Investment Management And Insurance, Absa. South Africa
He is the Director of Group Internal Audit: Investment Management and Insurance at Absa Bank South Africa and an academic with a vested interest in the Futures as a discipline. He has presented on this subject matter at several conferences and organisations and has received numerous accolades. He is a PhD Candidate (Wits) and holds an MBA (Stellenbosch), MCOM (Wits), BSc Hons Management (UJ), BSc IT & Mathematics qualifications.
Founder, Spree Rwanda. Rwanda
Aline Murekatete is Destination management specialist and certified Project manager. With 3+ years of experience in destination (Rwanda) marketing and destination consultancy, she takes pride in bringing the destination management services to the destination management services next level.
She has been selected as one of Rwanda’s top 12 Tourism Incubation women-only cohorts and was the winner of the Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation Competition 2020.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Travel and Tourism Management from Kenya Utalli College, in collaboration with the University of Nairobi.one of the world’s most prestigious hospitality schools.
Originally from a small city in India called Madras (now Chennai) – Ashwin is an Interactive Designer/Developer, specializing in UI/UX and product growth. After studying a Bachelors in Computer Science, Ashwin joined the bandwagon of high innovation by joining Honeywell. Two months later, he switched to startups and has never looked back.
After consulting for startups for three years, working in every vertical possible – Ashwin understood Psychology, Economics and Impact by taking a year off to study Liberal Arts. In 2014, Ashwin started traveling the world consulting for startups.
Assia Riccio is the Founder of Evolvin’ Women, an impact organisation based in
Dubai that helps businesses embed social responsibility in their HR practices by
connecting them with unemployed women from developing countries determined to
build a brighter future in hospitality for themselves, their families and communities,
despite the challenges they have faced growing up.
Assia is the former Group Learning and Development Manager at Jumeirah
Restaurant Group (JRG) in Dubai where she developed the L&D strategy for over
1000 employees when JRG was a division with a portfolio of 42 restaurants.
She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economy and Business of Tourism in her native Italy in 2006 at
Università degli Studi Parthenope in Naples and holds a dual certificate in Leadership and Personal
Effectiveness in Switzerland from the Ecole Hotelier de Lausanne where she completed her studies in 2011.
With over 25 years of experience in the international Hospitality & Tourism industry, he has been a prominent presence in the field. He is currently leading the commercial activities for Portier Technologies, a company that provides the industry with technology which enhances the guest experience and enhances engagement with the hotel.
Barry was chosen as one of the Global 100 most influential leaders in the industry during the Global Mice Congress in Mumbai this year and has been a regular invited speaker at several international Hospitality & Tourism conferences around the world.
With proven commercial understanding, product, and business development skills, he has also been appointed to the adjudication panel for the Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation competition. And will act as a mentor to one of the winners.
CEO Ghana Tourism Authority
Akwasi Agyeman, is the CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority, the lead Public Service Agency in charge of regulating tourism in Ghana through marketing and promotion, licensing and classification of tourism facilities and services, investments, research and development. Prior to his appointment in January 2017, he was a shareholding partner of Global Media Alliance, a Media Consultancy and broadcasting company. As the Managing Director of its broadcasting operations, he was in charge of one TV Station and four radio stations. Until recently, he was the President of the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA).
He holds an MBA in Marketing and Information Systems from Tulane University in Louisiana (2003), USA – an MBA Merit Scholarship Recipient. He also holds a Bachelors degree in Social Sciences (1993) and a Masters in Public Administration (MPA -1996) from the University of Ghana.
Key Account Manager, Airlines and Government Agencies Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), South Africa
Country Lead Entrepreneurial Solutions Partners, LLC (ESP) Gabon
Carmen is a dynamic business leader with an International track record of delivering significant results in difficult and volatile markets such as Tourism Management, Entrepreneurship & Tertiary Education. Her qualities are undeniable when it comes to developing strategic frameworks, building coalitions, fostering innovation and lobbying to drive substantial policy changes.
She is driven by her passion to catalyse change, initiate and oversee transformation and build solutions that transcend national borders.
She is also widely known for her courageous advocacy of quality education and socio-economic empowerment for youth and women.”
Director – BDO South Africa
Christelle has more than 23 years’ consulting experience and carries out and heads project teams for macro research, economic impact assessments, valuations, marketing and organisational strategies, market feasibility studies, financial viability assessments, business case assessments and transaction advisory assignments.
Christelle has also facilitated numerous workshops and large meetings and is proficient in using a range of facilitation approaches and tools.
Project Manager, Global Expo Botswana BITC
Julius is a highly qualified and competent customer service champion and project manager who has led various projects or been part of project teams in the years that he has been in the project management field. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences majoring in Economics and Demography in 1999. Furthermore, he read for his Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a minor in Project Management through the National Institute of Business Management (NIBM) based in Chennai, India in 2015. Julius is also a fully qualified Prince2 Practitioner in Project Management and also possesses a Certificate of Proficiency (CoP) in Long Term Insurance from the Insurance Institute of Zimbabwe (IIZ).
Julius started his career as a Trainee Underwriter in August 1999 at the then Botswana Eagle Insurance Company. He then left the insurance industry in the year 2000 to join the University of Botswana as a Staff Development Fellow (SDF) within the University of Botswana Library. He later worked as a Sales Executive at Standard Chartered Bank Botswana Limited where his duties included preparation and submission of sales propositions to prospective clients, acquisition of new business, especially liabilities, and direct selling of both assets & liabilities to prospective clients. Julius’ next stop was at Metropolitan Life Insurance Botswana, where the insurance bug attracted him once again, to work as a Direct Writer. From Metropolitan, Julius joined Barclays Bank of Botswana Limited as a Personal Banker, Insurance. As one of the pioneers of bancassurance within Barclays, Julius performed amongst others, the following duties: recruited new customers to the Bank, advised customers on risk & insurance, assessing their insurable interest, pioneered “Montshegetsi” Whole Life Cover policy at Barclays Bank, and sold other assets & liabilities to existing Barclays Bank clientele.
After a short stint at Barclays, Julius left the bank to join the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) in March 2010 as a Market Access Specialist. The following year in 2011, Julius was promoted to the position of Market Access Manager, where he also helped to develop the “Market Access Operational Strategy for LEA” in 2012. During his tenure at LEA he also represented the Authority in a number of Ministry of Investment, Trade & Industry (MITI) technical committees that included the Technical Committee on Market Access (TCMA), Technical Committee on Export Development & Investment Promotion (TCEDIP), Technical Committee on Services (TCS) and Technical Committee on Agriculture (TCA). All these technical committees reported to the main National Committee on Trade Policy & Negotiations (NCTPN). Julius also represented the CEO of LEA on various occasions at the NCTPN chaired by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Investment, Trade & Industry (MITI).
Julius has proven to be a customer service champion par excellence who was voted as a “Superstar” for the entire Department of Export Development and Promotion at Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) during the organization’s 2019
Christmas Awards. He also recently won the Mogaka Service Leadership Award as well as The WOW (Winner of Winners) Zebra Stripes Award during the 2020 Diamond Service Awards hosted by Service Bridges Consulting (SBC). The latter award is awarded to customer service champions that have consistently displayed leadership traits, are focused on service execution excellence and more importantly are a true cultural fit for their organization.
Director, Africa Department, UNWTO, Spain
Originally from the Seychelles, Elcia Grandcourt joined the World Tourism Organisation, a United Nations specialised Agency for Tourism in 2013 as Director, of the Regional Department for Africa. Elcia began her tourism career studying Hotel Management in Singapore at the Singapore Hotel Association and Education Centre (SHATEC). Thereafter, she occupied various positions in operations, reservations and sales mainly in hotels, including leading international brands such as Le Meridien and Hilton Worldwide Resorts. She was part of the rebranding team when Hilton Worldwide Resorts took over the management of the then Northolme hotel in Seychelles. She worked with the Seychelles national airline and destination management companies before joining the public sector to Seychelles Tourism Board as deputy CEO before being promoted to Chief Executive Officer, a position she occupied prior to joining UNWTO. Passionate about tourism, Elcia is honoured to be able to contribute towards sustainable tourism development in Africa.
Elcia also holds a Master in Dynamics of Cooperation, Conflicts and Negotiation in International Relations and Diplomacy.
Owner And Founder Merchantry Worldwide (Pty) Ltd South Africa
Inspired by Madam CJ Walker, and a strong advocate for Schumpeter’s school of thought. Gcina Nomsa Dlamini was named one of the Mail& Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans 2021, a winner in the category of Tourism & Hospitality. She is no stranger to the International community. While working in Washington DC, she received a scholarship from Howard University, Advance IT Women In STEM to further her studies in Econometrics & International Business. Her passion for travel started at the tender age of 14, on a visit to Dakar, Senegal. She has hosted multiple delegations and international celebrities both in South Africa and the US, who have a direct interest in investing in South Africa.
Her company Merchantry Worldwide, which means trade was founded on the basis of using travel as a catalyst for business and investment. She has contributed to the South African tourism industry, by exposing international visitors to the rich culture, history and diversity in the rural parts of the Country also known as ‘hidden gems. She is the Senior Export Manager for Europe & the UK at Wesgro, and was the runner up for the Africa Youth innovation challenge for 2021 in Kigali Rwanda.
She has also been accepted to the IE Brown Executive MBA in 2023
Founder & Principal Consultant Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda Kenya
Judy has a wealth of knowledge in sustainable travel and tourism across the African continent.
Judy is a sustainable tourism advocate, planner, adviser, assessor and trainer with over 20 years’ experience working with tourism sector, communities, conservation. Holder of MA in Rural Sociology & Community Development, Judy has dedicated her professional life to creating awareness on sustainable tourism. This has involved, challenging status quo, reviewing, debating and making contribution to how to effectively link tourism, community development, and conservation for sustainable tourism development.
She was the founding CEO of Ecotourism Kenya, the premier ecotourism society on Africa. While at Ecotourism she led and coordinated the development of criteria and standards for sustainable tourism certification, resulting in Kenya’s eco-rating scheme for hotels and lodges. In 2013, she founded Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda (STTA) an advisory organization that uses education, research, advocacy, and training to accelerate uptake of sustainable tourism, and support public and private sector agencies to engage and respond.
Globally Judy has served severally as a judge of World Travel and Tourism Council Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, and onsite evaluator for Nat Geo Unique Lodges of the World and Nat Geo World Legacy Awards. She has also been judge for IIPT Awards.
Her other roles in the industry include: board member of Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), advisory board member of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) and recently board member of Fair-Trade Tourism South Africa (FTT).
Judy has made significant contribution to acceptance and understanding of sustainable tourism through development of tools, training and awareness, assessment, advocacy and recently through a regional publication for East Africa- The EA sustainable tourism report.
Judy has developed one-day training modules for businesses that are beginning the journey and to support those who are in formative years/stage to mature into truly sustainable operations.
In 2019, she was awarded the Sustainable Citizen Award by Forbes Woman Africa in recognition of outstanding contribution to awareness and knowledge of sustainability in tourism in Africa and beyond.
Lecturer, Coordinator & Learning Development Facilitator, University of Johannesburg
Maipato Caroline Mmako is a lecturer, Coordinator and Learning Development Facilitator at the University of Johannesburg. Passionate about student success and student development, she has worked on an initiative called Africa by bus where she planned, organized, and facilitated 3 trips across 3 African countries with more than 250 students by bus. She presented at the South African National Resource Center (SANRC) on how the Africa by bus initiative encourages experiential learning and affords young people the opportunity to experience the different cultures in Africa while exploring the beautiful continent.
She forms part of the first cohort of fellows who were part of the Tennessee State University Research programme with a focus on student learning and adaptation; looking at the Nashville Next Plan. She loves working with young people and that saw her working in collaboration with a youth organization in Soweto where she led, collected, and donated over 250 books for the Nelson Mandela Day book drive.
She is also an avid reader and loves traveling.
Director, BDO, South Africa
Lee-Anne Bac is a Director at BDO Advisory Services Johannesburg with more than 20 years experience consulting to clients in the tourism, hospitality, leisure and property sectors in South Africa and the rest of Africa. Lee-Anne’s consulting experience includes strategic planning, market and financial feasibility studies, financial evaluations, business valuations, economic impact studies, socio-economic impact studies, market research and demand assessments and strategic management consulting.
Lee-Anne holds a BSc degree in Microbiology and Zoology from the University of the Witwatersrand and an MBA degree from the University of Cape Town. She joined BDO Advisory Services in 1997 as a Senior Consultant and was appointed as a Director of BDO Advisory Services in September 1999.
Lee-Anne is regularly quoted in the printed press about issues relating to the tourism, hospitality and property industries and with regard to women in business and she regularly presents at industry functions, workshops and conferences.
Lee-Anne is passionate about the transformative role of tourism in economies and societies. As her commitment to enhancing sustainable tourism, Lee-Anne is a Director of Fair Trade Tourism (FTT).
Lee-Anne is a member of the national executive of the Woman’s Property Network in South Africa and was a recipient of the Women’s Property Network “Excellence in Property” award in 2013. She is also a member of SAMRA – the South African Market Research Association.
Director - Innovation, Education And Investments UN World Tourism Organisation
Natalia Bayona leads the innovation, education and investments strategy of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the United Nations specialized agency for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and accessible tourism worldwide.
With a diverse background on politics, destination management and business, she has become the first innovation director at UNWTO, has introduced entrepreneurship and education as key factors for tourism and development, and has positioned UNWTO as an innovation benchmark within the wider United Nations system as recognized in the UN 2020 Mapping of Innovation, Data and Digital Capacities. Furthermore, she has joined the UN Executive Leadership Programme for Sustainable Development led by the UN System Staff College (UNSSC).
Her work consists of identifying the most disruptive startups and investment projects and matching them with Member States and leading corporations. As an advocate of youth and technology, she seeks to make entrepreneurs grow for a promising future in all regions.
During the last 4 years, Natalia has developed 20 UNWTO Startup Competitions and Innovation Challenges with outcomes such as more than 214 million USD in support for entrepreneurs and pilots for safe travel. Moreover, she has designed the Tourism Tech Adventures innovation forums and co-created the UNWTO Tourism Online Academy, the pioneer platform for advancing skill development for the sector in collaboration with the most prestigious universities such as IE University, Sommet Education, Swiss Education Group, the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong, the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and Externado de Colombia University, currently with over 15.000 students from 191 countries. Furthermore, she has created the UNWTO Technical Committee on Tourism Online Education and acts as its Secretary to ensure education is at the forefront of the global agenda.
She has also opened the Multilateral Investment Cooperation area for tourism and has built a network of more than 290 investors interested in the sector and is currently working on high-impact projects to recover tourism, including the Investment Readiness for Green Finance Mechanisms in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) from the World Bank Group. In this same vein, she has been a coordination member of the Global Tourism Crisis Committee (GTCC) where UNWTO Member States, UN Agencies and Private Sector Associations – IATA, ACI, CLIA, among others – gather to discuss actions to address current issues. Within this framework, Natalia has led the UNWTO Healing Solutions for Tourism Challenge, the UNWTO Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Global Startup Competition and the UNWTO Jobs Factory as specific projects to support destinations and employment.
On 2022, she has launched the first series of tourism investment guidelines: UNWTO Tourism Doing Business, starting with the Dominican Republic and Colombia, and moving on with countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uruguay. Also, she has developed the brand-new UNWTO Digital Futures for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Programme which aims to provide digital training on connectivity, business growth, e-commerce, big data and analytics, payments, and security to 1 million beneficiaries by partnering with the largest technology companies.
Furthermore, her short-term goals include a variety of high-impact projects such as (1) co-creating the first Tourism International Academy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, (2) opening of the UNWTO Tourism Innovation Lab in collaboration with IE University as a world-ranked institution on online education and entrepreneurship by QS Rankings, (3) positioning women leadership in tourism through supporting innovation and startups, and (4) supporting countries to advance their investment promotion strategies in order to facilitate business creation in tourism, hospitality and food & beverage with tools such as the above-mentioned guidelines.
As recognition for her work, Natalia has been awarded the IIPT (International Institute For Peace Through Tourism)’s 5th “Celebrating Her” prize for “Innovation & the Empowerment of Women Through Tourism” at ITB Berlin 2021, an acknowledgement that is only given to 3 women from all over the world each year. Natalia is also a part of the “100 de COTEC” network which gathers experts who speak Spanish from multiple areas of knowledge for analyzing social, economic and technological challenges that innovation faces.
Recently, she has also been recognized as one of the 10 Colombian nationals in Spain contributing the most to the country’s positive image, as one of the 150 most influential people in tourism in Spain by Sergestur, and as part of the women-led think tank The Club G100 as Colombia Country Chair for Smart and Sustainable Cities.
Natalia graduated in Government and International Relations from Universidad Externado de Colombia and holds an Executive MBA from the IE Business School. Nowadays, she is part of the World Economic Forum (WEF) network as a European Digital Leader and is an Eisenhower Fellow as the first Colombian on the Women Leadership Program for creating the first Tourism for Tomorrow Programme: a high-level network focused on joining public-private efforts for high-impact investments in digital education and innovation for tourism’s sustainable development and post Covid-19 recovery. Additionally, she enjoys sharing knowledge by teaching at universities – Harvard (USA), Cornell (USA), Externado (Colombia) and Bilkent (Turkey) – and public schools in Colombia as part of her give back to youth and her country.
In 2017, she served as the Vice President of International Development for the Spain Startup – South Summit and organized the first South Summit Pacific Alliance, connecting the main stakeholders of the entrepreneurship ecosystem of Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru.
Having worked in ProColombia for ten years, she has lived in six countries where has developed strategies to boost exports, foreign investment and tourism for Colombia. Her career started in 2006 as part of the team that created the first international tourism campaign for Colombia: “Colombia, the risk is wanting to stay”, which sought to change the image of the country abroad. The successful execution of this campaign in more than 15 countries was possible thanks to her work.
Associate Professor And Certified Meeting Professional. University Of South Africa
Magdalena Petronella (Nellie) Swart holds a DCom in Leadership Performance and Change, is an Associate Professor in Tourism at the University of South Africa, and a Certified Meeting Professional. Nellie has authored and co-authored accredited journal articles, book chapters and conference proceedings related to business tourism and tourism education. The training of tourism teachers is amongst her community engagement projects. She is an executive committee member of a number of tourism committees and serves on the editorial board of the IJTC. Nellie has organised national and international conferences and is often an invited speaker at business events.
Founder – SEEZA and Managing Director, Osiba Management
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 2014 his inbound business events company, Osiba Management PCO, received South African Tourism’s coveted Lilizela Tourism Award in recognition of its success in attracting international business events to South Africa. The same year Bukula was inaugurated as South Africa Business Events Ambassador by South African National Convention Bureau. In 2019, Osiba Management PCO was the first runner-up in the Corporate and PCO category of Forever Resorts’ Eagle Awards.
In 2017 Bukula established Seeza Tourism Growth Network, a national network of independent travel and tourism operators, dedicated to facilitating their domestic and international competitiveness, market access and digital transformation. Between February 2018 and July 2019 Seeza Network channelled direct business worth R5 million to network operators by linking them as suppliers to inbound business events organised by Osiba Management PCO. Seeza Tourism Growth Network has been a partner of World Travel Market Africa since its founding in 2017 and together the two entities have hosted a number of webinars on a range of topics pertinent to independent travel and tourism operators. In 2021 the network partnered with Tourism KwaZulu-Natal to launch the Tourism SME Digital Transformation Programme, a first in South Africa.
Bukula currently serves on the board of Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) and as Chair of its Growth & Transformation Committee. He is also a member of the board of TCI Network, a global body that promotes industrial clusters and networks.