Leaders of Tomorrow in Travel Tech Announce Winners at WTM Africa
A programme aimed at educating young people on the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the future of work and society, has named its first international winners at World Travel Market (WTM) Africa.
The students of Manenberg Secondary School in Cape Town, South Africa, took home top honours for their project which applied AI to a triple bottom line approach for enhancing sustainability in tourism.
Organised by UK author and Keynote speaker Katie King, this programme follows two successful UK cohorts. The group is the programme’s third winners and the first outside of the UK.
The students of Manenberg Secondary School and Gardens Commercial High School participated in learning sessions delivered by various industry experts designed to educate them on AI and how it will shape their futures.
Katie King served as both the programme facilitator and the first guest speaker, sharing some of the insights from her recently published second book, AI Strategy for Sales and Marketing, as well as job outlooks and skills data that will impact the students’ future careers.
This cohort of the programme focused on the travel industry, and Marketing Executive Simone Seekoei of Amadeus delivered a session that highlighted the trends and outlooks in this space.
The students also benefited from a session from Proitroom’s Senior Business Development Manager, Michael Puffett. He explained the importance of the travel tech business as a sector in which to build an exciting career.
After completing their training, the students participated in a competition where they applied AI to real-world problems impacting the travel industry. The competition entries were judged by Katie King and Lord Tim Clement-Jones, Co-Chair of the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Artificial Intelligence. The two finalist teams presented their ideas in front of a live audience at the World Travel Market Africa event at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on 4th April.
The winning team considered how AI could be applied to enhance three different forms of sustainability in the tourism industry: economical, ecological, and cultural/social. Their project examined each of these areas in depth and considered the impacts that technology could have to improve profits, the planet, and the lives of people. The runners up presented an idea for AI-powered humanoid bots who could assist tourists with various tasks, including taking photos and recording videos.
Regarding the winning project, Lord Clement-Jones commented: “I am pleased to have been able to act as judge once again for the Leaders of Tomorrow programme, as the ideas of these young students never cease to amaze. I was very impressed by all of the projects submitted, but the winning project was a real standout for me.
A well-rounded AI approach is one that considers impacts not just on profits, but also on humans and the environment. These young people kept that at the idea and managed to come up with applications that were both impressive and feasible. I would certainly love to see some of their ideas come to life someday!”
For Katie King, the completion of this cohort marks the third successful iteration of a programme she dreamed up during the pandemic as a means of supporting the next generation and serving a greater purpose with her work. It also marks the first time the programme was held outside of her home country.
She says: “It has been really rewarding to be able to run the Leaders of Tomorrow programme three times now. When the project began in 2020, I had hopes to bring it to other schools around the world someday.
To have been able to do it here in South Africa is a real dream come true, and I am very grateful to the team at World Travel Market Africa for making it possible. I continue to be impressed by the students and their fantastic ideas, and these young leaders make me confident that our future is in great hands. I look forward to bringing this programme to more schools and more countries moving forward.”
To learn more about the programme, please click here.