Kenyas capital city has once again been chosen to host a major continental tourism conference in March this year. E-tourism guru Damian Cook will be leading the field of global e-tourism experts who will come to Kenya to help transform the sectors approach to the new media and train and counsel the over 200 participants in how to best tap into social media and make a market impact.
In the past many tourism stakeholders found themselves restricted by small advertising and marketing budgets, but can now at last use the power of social media and web based marketing to take their message to the rest of the world without having to travel long distances to attend one or two tourism trade fairs.
Said a smaller tour operator from Nairobi, frequently in touch with this correspondent on all matters concerning tourism developments in East Africa: When we set up our company we could hardly afford to print brochures and had to decide between going to ITB or WTM due to budget constraints. When the internet became what it is today, for a little investment we managed to put up a web site and when Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and U Tube came along and became popular, we managed to put ourselves on the map.
E-Tourism levels the playing field a lot more, not completely, but a lot more now. We can showcase ourselves and the more active one is on the web, the more visible the company is also. The big boys in our industry still have a lot of advantages but the smaller companies with just as good guides and expertise no longer are out in the cold. We get business that way and we hope for more in the future as we learn more from such conferences.
Notably have secure booking and payment solutions been developed by financial services providers which help to avoid past problems, making the use of internet based transaction, often referred to as e-Commerce, more viable and more widely available. Major credit and debit card organizations setting up offices in Nairobi to serve the wider region too have helped as transaction speeds have increased considerably, with participating merchants no longer having to wait weeks to see funds credited.
Developed countries are now thought to transact up to 50 percent of business via e-Commerce solutions while on the African continent the percentage is notably still way below the 10 percent mark, with some countries in fact not even registering on the scale yet. It is here that the 2 day conference is set to prepare greater market acceptance and wider participation in doing business the new way and to catapult Africa as a destination continent truly into the 21st century.