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Latest Deals | 29th November 2021




An online travel company that started in Sweden and relocated to South Africa.

Travelstart is an online travel agency founded by Stephan Ekbergh in 1999. When he first started operating, Stephan worked from a coffee shop in his hometown of Malmö, Sweden. A few years after starting his business, Stephan travelled to Cape Town on holiday. While there, he met with a group of contacts who worked travel industry to get an idea of the state of online travel bookings in the country. He discovered that, while local agencies were consolidating into bigger groups, very few were considering online as a channel. Attracted by the potential of the market, Stephan moved to Cape Town in 2004 and sold Travelstart Nordic to another company – eTRAVELi. He started afresh with Travelstart South Africa in 2006. The company started off selling flight tickets, partnering with the new, low-cost airlines, who were more receptive to the idea of online bookings than the more established carriers. In the early days, Travelstart managed to drive traffic to its site through the use of an affiliate network and basic email marketing.

Travelstart has grown from a one-man operation to employing over 200 staff members today. It’s the biggest online travel agency in Africa and is active in 15 countries on the continent as well as in the Middle East. Travelstart’s services have extended beyond flights. The company now offers hotel bookings, vacation packages, and car rental. In early 2016, Travelstart secured $40-million in funding from MTN and Amadeus Capital Partners, which would be used to further the company’s expansion into other markets.

Before launching Travelstart, Stephan Ekbergh had started Sweden’s first ever online travel agency called Mr Jet in 1995.