According to a report by World Tourism Organisation, “innovation” and “technological change” are currently occupying a privileged place in the cyclical succession of symbolic terms forming part of global tourism discourse. This does not come as a surprise because both of them are critical in improving business, competitiveness of tourist destinations and the overall tourists’ experience. Indeed, the fast rate of technological evolution has made most travelers across the world more techno-savvy than before. The internet has revolutionized the tourism industry as travelers are seeking information through the internet before making any travel decisions. As a result, it is now necessary for the industry players to adapt technology to cope with the changing customer behaviour.
iHub, a technology hub in East Africa notes that while there have been numerous innovations in sectors such as agriculture, ICT and manufacturing, the tourism sector has not embraced innovation. This is despite the huge role that tourism plays in the African economy with 5% of all jobs being in the tourism industry. The opportunities in the tourism industry in Africa are immense as the sector is growing at the rate of 7.2% per year with the potential of being much higher.
The World Tourism Organisation identifies two areas in the tourism sector with the potential to grow if investors put their money in developing the appropriate tourism technology. The first of these is the marketing of tourist destinations, products and services. Online sale of tourism products has changed from being simply price conscious to an inspiration to the viewer to travel. Since online users absorb information from different sources, they are likely to remember only the site with the information that best stimulates them to travel. Search engine marketing, digital marketing, mobile and location based marketing are some of the channels for reaching a potential traveler. However, the ultimate decision of the traveler to choose your business will depend on the right pricing and the appeal of the content.
Secondly, the infrastructure of your organization which contributes to the readiness to respond to customer needs is key. Travelers are increasingly looking for personalized products and services making it necessary for industry investors to have tools for the storage and monitoring of information to meet the needs of individual clients. This requires the integration of technology in the management of tourism industry organisations.
Today, there is a great need for accurate education of the right technology suitable for the tourism sector. This would reduce the large gap that currently exists between tourism and technology industries. This gap has already been noted by DT X which has picked on the Democratic Republic of Congo as one of the two countries hosting its Aqua Travel Tourism 4.0 projects. The aim of the project is to leverage technology to market tourism which would, in turn, contribute to economic growth.