Visitors to Africa will soon book more travel online
Although mostly stock footage, this brief video from NTVKenya highlights the general lack of e-commerce surrounding Africa, more specifically, travel-related e-commerce. Damian Cook, CEO of E-Tourism Frontiers (a program to develop online tourism in emerging markets) recently commented on the lack of online presence of African tourism businesses:
Something is wrong if we have 48% of tourism being sold completely online around the world – 70% in some of our key source markets and we’re selling 2% of our tourism online. There is no way we can sustain our tourism industry at those levels if we are completely absent in the predominant marketplace of sales.”
The problem isn’t with prospective travelers: the survey referenced by Mr. Cook indicates that 95 percent of travelers use the Internet as their primary source of travel information. Instead, the obstacle barring the purchase of African travel online is inventory. African businesses simply aren’t prepared to book reservations using the Internet. They may advertise online, however, but the final purchase is perhaps made through some other analog means
Fortunately, African e-commerce is taking hold now that broadband technologies are emerging and social media networking gains energy. In the case of tourism, e-commerce promises significant economic advantages in the coming years. Who knows, the ability to book a wide variety of African vacations online could sway travelers who otherwise would have ventured to Southeast Asia, for example.
As a final note, the E-Tourism East Africa Conference is scheduled for the weekend of September 2-3 in Nairobi. Local and international speakers will cover e-business and e-commerce essentials, as well as marketing tools. Hopefully such conferences can carry over or trickle down into other sectors of the African economy.