‘Africation Tours’ wins Dragons’ Den at Inholland Diemen

With their product ‘Alternative Heritage Tour’, student group ‘Africation Tours’ won the Dragons’ Den of all Inholland tourism programmes. Fourth year Destination Development (minor) students needed to develop a tourism product that enables ‘meaningful encounters’ between tourists and locals.

The students got the opportunity to present their tourism product to a panel of professionals in a ‘Dragons’ Den’ format. The ‘dragons’ (the panel) were representatives from TUI, Skills for Bizz, Hello Ennio, Buro Kordaat, B&B Randje Amsterdam and Culture Match.

Two student groups had visited Essaouira in Morocco, and had been inspired to develop a touristic product for that city. The third group was asked to develop a product that would create authentic experiences and memories in Amsterdam.


Jennifer Oei, one of the winning students
Almost all locals that we interviewed in Essaouira only spoke French… But we don’t! Fortunately we were assisted by local students who translated for us, so that finally worked out well.
Jennifer Oei, one of the winning students

Dark tourism

The winners, who named themselves ‘Africation Tours’, developed a product which reveals the dark sides of Essaouira. “Tourists want to have an experience and that’s what we’re going to offer them!”, the group explained. “We will take the tourists to the poor and tell them about the pirate history; fishermen and musicians have plenty of stories to share. The locals will teach them about slavery and show them exorcism rituals.” Dark tourism is getting more popular these days, but people don’t like the term, according to this student group. “That’s why we call our product ‘Alternative Heritage Tour’.”

Unlimited possibilities
The dragons praised ‘Africation Tours’ for their original and creative concept. The main reason why they proclaimed this group winners, were the unlimited possibilities to expand this idea to other cities and countries. There is an infinitely large amount of stories to be told!

There were also some critical notes: the group asked the dragons for an initial investment of just €8000. According to the panel they would need a lot more than that! They also advised to make this idea more attractive for an investor. Another suggestion was to organise a franchise system, which would make it possible to not be in Morocco all the time.

Jennifer Oei, one of the winning students, was very happy and proud to win this Dragons’ Den: “It wasn’t easy! We had very little time to prepare this pitch. And almost all the locals we interviewed in Essaouira only spoke French… But we don’t! We were fortunately assisted by local students who translated everything for us, so that finally worked out well.”

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photo:Marijn van Hulzen
Marijn van Hulzen
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