NAIROBI, Kenya, May 18 – With more than 60 percent of global travel for both leisure and business being booked over the internet, East African tourism companies have been challenged to take advantage of new media to grow their business.
CEO of E Tourism Frontiers Damian Cook said it was vital that all tourism players continue to increase both their understanding and investment into the online sector.
“With continuing growth in online sales despite the global recession and more than 60 percent of travel for both business and leisure now being booked via the internet and raising well over US $150 billion, the internet cannot be considered a small part of the tourism sector,” said Mr Cook.
E-Tourism Frontiers is an initiative that started in Kenya but now works worldwide to help emerging destinations make better use of the internet and social media to market and manage their destinations and businesses.
Since 2008 E Tourism Frontiers has organised six major international conferences in Kenya, South Africa and Jordan on Online Tourism and the company has trained over 3,000 people across 14 training seminars in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa and Jordan.
This year the company is also holding events in Doha, Qatar and across Greece.
Mr Cook announced on Wednesday that a new series of one-day training seminars on online tourism will take place in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania from May 25 to June 22.
The E-Tourism East Africa Road Show, which is being sponsored by Kenya Commercial Bank, (KCB) and Visa will help the sector to grow and leverage the latest online opportunities available for travel.
Mr Cook went on to say; “Our industry needs to focus not just on their own marketing but to encourage their clientele to market for them via social media. 50 percent of travelers now read a review before booking a hotel or trip for a long haul destination and this is especially relevant for travel to Africa. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are vital tools when researching travel.
“However only a small number of East African Tourism companies are really accessing and using these tools to their full potential. These new seminars are designed to show them how to do this.”
KCB, a major sponsor of the Road Show, said the company had a very strong commitment to tourism and wants the sector to explore all the opportunities available, especially online.
“There has been a marked increase of tourists booking online and it is extremely critical that the tourism sector across East Africa begins to market and do business online. We hope that the E Tourism East Africa Road Show will be a wake up call to the sector to focus online,” said Peter Munyiri, KCB senior manager.
Visa, a lead sponsor, said: “With so many products and services being purchased online today, we want to ensure that the tourism sector knows the value and benefits of accepting online payments. We also want to highlight the importance of managing secure payments online,” said Victor Ndlovu, Country Manager,Visa Sub – Saharan Africa.
The E Tourism East Africa Road Show will include sessions on website development, e-commerce, online reservations and bookings, e-marketing, multimedia, user generated content, social networks, mobile marketing and much more. The seminars will explain the benefits of online payments and e-commerce and will also introduce real business solutions for tourism companies that may be struggling with reservation and booking systems.