Opinion and Analysis
Growth of Internet offers potential for tourism sector to thrive in hard times
Posted Wednesday, May 23 2012 at 19:41
One billion is a popular figure this year and will represent two major landmarks for our local business sector.
It’s the total amount of people that are predicted to be on Facebook by August. But it’s also the total number of tourist arrivals that the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has forecast for this year, which will be the highest ever recorded.
This kind of growth during our troubled economic times shows how resilient the tourism sector is and how it will remain one of the most important contributors to our economy.
But in terms of how tourists are deciding where to travel and where to book their trips, we need to consider that other one billion landmark, the population of the world’s largest social network.
The Internet revolution continues to make a major impact on tourism and travel. Online travel bookings continue to soar, the latest statistics show that travellers will book more than half of the world’s travel sales online by the end of 2012.
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.
Since 2006, when we held the first E Tourism Conference in Kenya, we have seen forward thinking tourism companies transfer their business, marketing and payment options online and reap real results.
The former hurdle of taking online payments is now gone. Kenya Commercial Bank launched a specialised online payment product for the tourism sector and they are continuing to expand and develop it, giving customers the benefit of real time reservations and real time payments.
But we also need to understand consumer behaviour online. The billion strong audience on Facebook will not be going to our official business and destination websites for information.
They are being inspired by the experiences and opinions of their friends and families as they travel and talk about it on Facebook.
We have one billion reasons to make the change to online and we also have one of the richest, most diverse and dramatic destinations on the planet and the limitless world of the web to tell our stories.
Cookis the CEO and founder of E Tourism Frontiers