Founder of JourneyKind Sayo Ayodele
The tourism market is huge. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council it’s responsible for 10% of the global GDP, while the size of the travel booking industry was worth around $35 billion in 2018 alone.
So what’s in it for start-ups trying to break into such a saturated market?
“The ethical tourism market is rapidly growing,” says Sayo Ayodele, founder of JourneyKind, a travel agency focused on sustainable and ethical tourism.
In Booking.com’s annual survey of the travel industry for 2019, 87% of travelers reported that they want to make more sustainable travel choices. More than 60% reported they wanted the money they spend from tourism to remain in the local economy.
“This reflects an untapped industry for ethical or sustainable tourism within the larger very saturated generic tourism market,” Ayodele explains.
She says while there are several initiatives focused on ecotourism in rural locations, there aren’t many companies focusing on ethical tourism on a global scale “and there aren’t many companies focusing on [ethical] travel in cities either”.
In 2016, Ayodele was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and was searching for a local supplier who could guarantee that they would pay ethical wages and provide adequate equipment to the guides.
“The process of researching such an organization was long and cumbersome and made me realize how difficult it is to be sensible traveler,” she says. “I recognized an opportunity to make travel planning easier and quicker for people who want to find ethical travel options to do so.”
In 2019 she launched JourneyKind to introduce a “unique” travel company that would help find ethical tourism options.
Just 5% of the money spent by tourists actually remains in the local community according to the UN’s World Travel Organisation.
“I believe there is a huge opportunity to ensure that more of the money from tourism actually benefits local economies,” Ayodele continues.
The agency curates travel services: hotels, restaurants and local activities, and prioritizes options that create a positive social, economic or environmental impact. The company is already offering services in London and New York, and will be expanding to Paris and Berlin “imminently”.
“We work to ensure our customers minimize their carbon output and to curate unique off-the-beaten path experiences that enables our clients to make a local impact. We bridge the gap between travelers searching for more ethical travel options and businesses that create local impact.”
Ayodele says her company’s competitors are Good Wings and Kind Traveler, who both donate to charity with every booking.
But, she says, what sets JourneyKind apart is instead of donating to charities, the company boosts local economy.
“Our aim is to help consumers make small shifts in the way they travel, and how they spend their money when they do so. It’s about helping individuals who are interested in making their money matter.
“What also sets us apart is that the provision of end-to-end service that empowers our clients to have a positive impact at every stage of their journey: with vetted options for transport, accommodation and experiences.”
Unlike other travel agencies, JourneyKind focuses only on cities – doing so because Ayodele says the potential for impact is greater. “We focus specifically on cities where tourism is huge.”
The 31-year-old’s ultimate ambition is to become the hub for people who wish to travel sustainably.
“I want to foster the creation of an ethical economy – through tourism – by helping customers who want to travel more ethically find the right options for their travel and by supporting businesses in the travel industry that are trying to practice sustainable/ethical operations.”