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Kenya tour operators urged to go E

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 5 – Players in the tourism industry have been urged to take advantage of the online platform to better survive the on-going global economic recession.

Chief Executive Officer for E Tourism Africa, Damian Cook, says online sales is one of the few sectors in the world that have experienced growth despite the global recession.

He noted that technology is a lot more cost effective than traditional media.

“Printing brochures and flying to London to hand them out is not as cost effective as doing this online where you have access to the whole world,” Mr Cook observed.
He said the submarine fibre optic cables – expected in Kenya in June – will give the much needed boost to the tourism industry.

“With the cable providing increased broadband and greater online access at a reduced cost, it is predicted that marketing and e-commerce transactions will grow dramatically. This presents tremendous opportunities for the business sector and tourism across East Africa,” the CEO said.

Speaking at a media forum to announce a series of two-day training seminars on online tourism management and marketing that will take place in the East Africa region, Mr Cook pointed out that travel is now the number one selling commodity online and is generating over US$110 billion annually in sales.

He said the seminars to be conducted in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda from May 18 to June 5, are intended to help the sector better understand and leverage on the online opportunities.

Mr Cook however observed that very little of African tourism is sold online adding that locating and booking African destinations on the web can be a challenge.

“Less than two percent of our tourism is distributed online but with the coming of more access to infrastructural change and connectivity and also commerce change we should see that rapidly change,” he said.

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Recent polls from Eyefortravel, a leading research company on internet-focused travel, suggested that seven out of 10 travellers use the internet as their primary source of travel information – and with almost half of the planet’s travel being distributed and booked online – it is crucial that the tourism sector across East Africa invests in online marketing and management.

The Kenya Communication Amendment Act 2008 that should allow players in the tourism industry to take advantage of e-transactions was passed early this year but much is yet to be achieved on the implementation front.

In the past, players within the tourism industry had blamed the lack of legislation on the slow growth of the e-tourism product in the country.

The industry has been going through some hard times in the last two years as a result of the post election violence that rocked the country early last year and the current global economic downturn that has seriously affected some of the country’s key source tourism markets.

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