E-passports the way to go - Van Schalkwyk

2013-09-10 08:18

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Cape Town - "Travel needs to be less cumbersome," says Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk who highlighted the exponential growth of the global industry over the past six decades at the E-tourism summit, taking place at the International Convention Centre.

Digital, through online destination marketing and e-commerce has played a vital role, with the minister highlighting Expedia booked travel to South Africa, which grew by 32% from January to June 2013, as compared to the same period the previous year. In addition to this domestic bookings increased by 53%.

Digitally reducing the barriers to entry

But it is time for it to become an integral part of the administration process by way of reducing the barriers to entry, according to Van Schalkwyk.

When asked about the progress of the e-visa proposed by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) presented at the 2012 G20 meeting Van Schalkwyk said, "I believe this is the way to go. Not only is it much cheaper and easier for travel but from a security point of view it is much more effective.

"In the next two weeks a decision will be taken by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) about the universal uptake of e-passports by 2020. For government that will be the new decision to make.

"We need to address the present outdated system of always having to go to Embassies, filling in forms and standing in queues. In a few years times this will be non-existent," says Van Schalkwyk.

Amongst the other barriers to entry he stressed the importance for governments to look at the regulation of industry taxes in order to make travel more viable and accessible.

Hyper-connectivity brings with it hyper-vulnerabilities

Van Schalkwyk also stressed that disruption to business models, reputational risks associated with the social media that can easily amplify unwarranted negative perceptions and meeting the inherent search for customisation and authentic experiences are key areas for the industry to address.

The risk of online security and trust remains a key concern, with the minister mentioning potential "cyber terrorists and sabotage" that could target air traffic controls or financial booking systems.

The 5th Annual E-Tourism Africa Summit is hosted by South African Tourism and Cape Town Tourism, aimed mainly at members within the tourism industry and SMME’s.

This year’s summit will be focusing on trends and developments within the online tourism industry with advice on how best to use online platforms to develop and grow a business.  A host of speakers including representatives from YouTube, Facebook, TripAdvisor and Expedia will be presenting.

Helena Egan from Tripadvisor (Selene Brophy)

Follow day two on twitter with #ETAS13

Read more on:    south african tourism  |  cape town  |  travel  |  travel south africa  |  visas  |  good news

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