Online Tourism grows in Africa

2013-06-13 09:06
A two day world-class E-Tourism Africa conference was launched today paving the way for the annual summit to be held on the 9th and 10th September at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Sponsored by South African Tourism, the summit is expected to bring together the world’s leading experts on online tourism with the likes of Facebook, Trip advisor, Expedia, Twitter and a new set of innovative speakers and solutions from local and international stages respectively.

The CEO of E-Tourism Frontiers, Damian Cook, said it was fundamental that all tourism players continue to enhance both their understanding and investment into the online sector. “Online travel bookings continue to grow globally, with bookings expected to reach over US $400 billion (R39 billion) this year, while 40% of total travel spending will now be online,” said Cook, quoting statistics from Online Travel Research Firm, PhoCus Wright.

 “The combination of increasing wealth among middle-class consumers and greater internet penetration and greater consumer confidence for online payments in emerging markets has led to the rapid increase in online travel sales. The great news for emerging markets, such as Africa, is that online travel and tourism is poised to experience solid growth over the next five years, with the Middle East and Africa leading the way in percentage terms, according to Euromonitor,” said Cook.  

The CEO further stated that online travel will also benefit from Africa’s growth in mobile, saying that mobile penetration across Africa is expected to reach 80% later this year and smart phone ownership currently around 17 to 19% of the continent, according to the 2012 African Mobile Factbook, online mobile travel sales will be very important for domestic and regional travel bookings, said Cook.

Although Cook said the mobile continues to be very critical in this tourism sector, he said they will take a closer look at the mobile during the summit and also have very practical sessions on the second day of the summit, “That will give the travel trade the opportunity to focus strongly on which social media campaigns, channels and online business opportunities work well in Africa and for their own markets,” said Cook.

During the event, the winner of the African App quest which is supported by Visa and South African Tourism will be announced, the overall winner will claim a prize of $10,000 (R100 000) who will be presenting a solution to the summit audience.

To William Price, the Global Manager of E-Marketing at South African Tourism, the Summit will be a great opportunity for the tourism sector to catch up with all the latest online technology.

“We are delighted to be the title sponsors of the summit, we want to continue to show the tourism sector that shifting their business online is absolutely crucial. As part of our sponsorship package we will be giving the chance to 100 SMMEs to attend the summit on a complimentary basis. We also plan to unveil a Digital Academy at the summit that will be specially designed for our travel trade. We want to make moving online accessible and practical and the summit will be a great opportunity for everyone to learn what works online and the new trends and innovations that will help build our business for the future”, said Price.

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