NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 6 – Kenya is set to enjoy huge economic benefits as a result of the newly enacted Kenya Communication Amendment Act 2008 that recognises e-payments.
The Managing Director of e-tourism Africa Damian Cook told Capital Business on Tuesday that tourists interested in visiting Kenya could now shop, book and pay for their trip through the internet unlike in the past.
“The (law) is a huge step towards development of on-line tourism in that it is something that we have pushed for, for years as an organisation,” Mr Cook said.
“On-line has become the predominant channel for the world in marketing, selling and distributing tourism products and what has kept Africa as a continent and Kenya as a country behind is the inability to provide for this service.”
Mr Cook revealed that despite online trade becoming the principal channel in the tourism sector, less than one percent of bookings in Africa take place on line.
“78 percent of travellers regard the internet as their primary source of information for their travel; increasingly that’s where they book. We in Africa have four percent of world tourism coming to us, less than one percent is sold on line at the moment. That disparity, obviously, is enormous so any step we take in that direction is going to result in huge increases in our tourism numbers and thereby our revenues,” he added.
Kenya becomes the first country in the East African region to take this step with only a few countries in North Africa and South Africa currently carrying out e-business.
“We have had ourselves in a very dangerous situation in that the world has shifted over in the last five to six years to the point where the number one selling commodity on line is not books or music downloads; it is travel, mainly through what’s called intermediary travel,” Mr Cook observed.
He noted that the worldwide on-line tourism sector churns out $110 billion in sales revenue only, not considering the knock-on revenue which portends even huger earnings for the industry in the country.
Mr Cook however pointed out the need for the law to ensure the security of these transactions.
“What we have to look at now is how the law will be taken especially by the banking sector because it is where the cracks of this matter have really been. The banking sector has not been lobbying enough for it because there are a number of changes they have to make to be able to allow companies to carry out this kind of transactions,” said Mr Cook.