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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

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Durban woman developing tourism app to connect students to gig economy

Amanda Mathe, creator of the Zula app which will help grow the South African tourism sector. Picture: Supplied

Amanda Mathe, creator of the Zula app which will help grow the South African tourism sector. Picture: Supplied

Published Aug 2, 2022


Durban - A KwaZulu-Natal woman and her team of tech fundis are currently at work developing a mobile phone application that could help take South Africa’s tourism industry to the next level.

Amanda Mathe, 33, from Durban, says that her app - Zula app, seeks to connect tourism students to businesses and the gig economy.

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The word Zula, is an IsiZulu word which means to travel or wander, making it a catchy fit, explained Mathe.

Mathe said she teamed up with a Durban-based research and development company, Pista Ventures, for their technical expertise on the developmental phase for Zula App.

Nkululeko Mthembu from Pista Ventures said that the app is a competitor to the likes of Airbnb, but places more emphasis on the experience side of tourism, rather than the bookings.

Mathe said that the application is likely to be launched in early 2024.

The young entrepreneur, who has spent many years working in the KZN tourism industry, said she came up with the concept during the Covid-19 pandemic which rocked the tourism sector.

The main target market for Zula App are international tourists and will provide customers with an opportunity to explore South Africa from a grassroots perspective, rather than a commercial one.

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“The platform will connect cultural, rural and township tourism activities and help tourists explore. It’s about connecting tourism graduates with the hospitality sector and gig economy.

“The platform exists as a vetting tool and also as a working tool for young graduates that want to work within the sector but are not necessarily absorbed by the big tourist hubs.

“The entire experience is tracked through the graduate’s phone as well as the customer’s phone, so that is how we will manage the security side,” Mathe told IOL.

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Mthembu said it is possible for the app to be designed and developed in a week, but will need a lot of time to iron out the kinks and see where their issues lie.

“There are many things to consider. This app can be built in a week, but whether or not it does what it is intended to do, will need more thinking and consideration.

“Understanding where the tourism products are and then actively seeking out people in those spaces will take time.

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“The tourism and hospitality sector as a whole, is one of the big performing parts of the economy, and I think if we have a situation where there are young people that are enabled to participate in that economy, then I genuinely think that it is one of those things that will work,” Mthembu said.