Behind Travel Afrique are Tracy Kuelo and Calvino Miguel, both aged 27 and together, they have made it not only their mission to inspire people to see the real Africa but to also make Africa more accessible to the world.
One of their core values is to be revolutionary in their approach in doing business in the continent’s travel landscape. Because they seek to “drive humanity forward, even if it means to go against the tide” we had to find out more about the young African entrepreneurs behind Switzerland based bespoke tour company Travel Afrique.
Tell us a little about Travel Afrique. Who makes up the company’s leadership and what do you do?
Our formula is quite simple. We offer a selection of our best addresses and tips for a pleasant and unforgettable stay in Africa. Tracy Kuelo as one of the co-founders, is responsible for researching and developing marketing opportunities, planning, and implementing new sales plans. She is also our secret weapon in building up a good network with local travel agencies across Africa.
Calvino Miguel, the other co-founder, is the tech guy with a good eye for design. He is responsible for the technical development of the Travel Afrique platform and manages the overall operations of the company.
As young African entrepreneurs living in Switzerland, how do you pay homage to the countries from which you come from?
Tracy: Our heart has always been set on the African continent. I was born and raised in Switzerland by Congolese parents, but grew up being exposed to Congolese culture. It was always important for my parents to ensure that I was connected to our roots. Calvino was born in Angola and came to Switzerland with his family at the age of 9. Even in Europe his parents never ceased teaching him African values.
We both inherited the love and longing for Africa from our parents. In this sense, we have always celebrated Africa, and kept doing so even more after we founded the Travel Afrique people see today. However, when it comes to Travel Afrique, it actually all began with me wanting to build a community to get travel tips and inspiration for Africa. Very soon it became clear to me that besides the most popular African countries (such as South Africa, Morocco, Tanzania, and Egypt), there are little information and opportunities to book trips to less popular African regions. As an avid traveler of the African continent, I was eager to discover new places and adventures. Calvino joined my journey 2 years later after he successfully sold his first company and decided to invest in something that inspires him – Africa.
What is your inspiration? (Being in the travel business)
Calvino: None of us have a background in the travel industry, however, we have noticed the beneficial economic impact that travel and tourism can have on countries, as well as the profound effect international experiences can have on individuals. For these reasons we envision a world where people both inside and outside Africa can easily journey across the continent. This is what drives us every day.
Two major highlights in business?
Calvino: To have the opportunity to express our passion for Africa with our business and to shine Africa in a more beautiful light, which is already suppressed by many clichés.
COVID and the impact on you?
Tracy: Covid-19 has been quite the lesson so far. We never expected to experience a pandemic of this magnitude. This naturally affected our income, but it also provided us with a window of opportunity. We are now very much focused on product development based on the needs of our users. We are pulling out all
the stops to position the company in such a way that we can operate in this new environment from 2021 onwards.
How do you view the future of travel?
Tracy: More and more people can afford to travel and inspire themselves to travel. Travel has become an absolute trend in the past years, especially with the great influence of social media, where people prefer to share their travel experiences. Even though COVID-19 currently poses one of its greatest challenges to the industry, we are optimistic about the future of Africa travel. After all, Africa is one of the most culturally and naturally diverse, if not the most diverse continent in the world and has so much to offer.
Furthermore, the African continent is the second-fastest growing region when it comes to tourism, after Asia-Pacific. That is already enormous. With Travel Afrique we would like to contribute to this growth so that the continent develops into the fastest growing tourism region.
Your top 5 destinations in Africa and why?
Tracy: Ghana conquered all hearts last year with 2019’s Year of Return. Ghana is on a very solid pathway to keep up with the big players like Kenya, Morocco, and South Africa.
Then Congo, my home of course. This country is as big as western Europe and has so many hidden tourist attractions. It is my first love.
Morocco stole my heart in 2018 when I did my Educational tour with a partner. I liked it so much that 5 months later I did the same tour again with my friends. The south of Morocco is incredible. The south of Morocco is especially magical.
Next is Ethiopia, rich in culture and tradition plus it is the only country that has never been colonized and that it itself is hugely intriguing. I am very fascinated by this land that has so much hidden history.
Lastly, the Seychelles, with its blue sky, blue sea. It consists of about 115 beautiful islands and every time I see videos and pictures from the Seychelles, I want to pack a bag and catch a slight to the island destination
Calvino: Naturally, Angola will always have its place in my heart, as it is my country of origin. Nevertheless, it still has huge and untapped tourism potential. From north to south the vegetation ranges from tropical rainforest in the north and in Cabinda to tree savannah in the center and the dry grass savannah, which is
interspersed with spurge plants, acacias, and baobabs. Starting from Namibia, a strip of desert stretches along the southwest coast.
DR Congo has a very special meaning to me. It is the country that accommodated a part of my family during the war in Angola. Who knows if I would have ever existed if this had not happened?
Egypt, the country known in ancient times as Kemet (the black country), fascinates me because of its history. The mysteries around the pyramids, the sphinx, the pharaohs, and their legacy are a subject that amazes not only me but the whole world.
When we are talking about Tanzania I don’t even know where to start. Whether it is the natural beauty of the country or the amazing wildlife, dazzling beaches, captivating ancient towns or geological wonders, Tanzania knows how to seduce its visitors in so many ways. It is a country that strongly encourages more than one visit to capture the extent of the highlights it has to offer.
Who can resist this paradise land?
Thanks to videos and images from the Internet, I have fallen in love with Mauritius' landscape and crystal-clear waters. It’s definitely on my list of countries to visit next.
What would you like the world to know about travelling to Africa?
Tracy: One thing we know for sure: travelling to Africa is worth it. Put aside the negative images you are used to from television and go see for yourself. After your first trip to Africa, don't be surprised if your worldview turns 180 degrees and you become addicted to travelling to Africa!