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Harnessing The Potential Of The Web

Global internet innovators speaking at Africa’s first international e-tourism conference

eTN  Jul 30, 2008

JOHANNESBURG - Some of the world’s leading online experts will be speaking at Southern Africa’s first e-tourism conference. Global online giants such as Microsoft, Expedia and Google will be giving presentations at the two-day conference on September 1-2 on how Southern Africa’s tourism sector can harness the potential of the web, especially in the lead up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Also among the stellar line up of speakers is leading Internet innovator Jerome Touze - the co-CEO and one of the Founders of – the world’s leading travel social networking site.

Touze, aged 28, conceived the online idea, after a year spent backpacking the globe in 2002. He wanted to create a social networking website that was specifically designed for travelers, which allowed them to create a profile for themselves and share their travel experiences, photos, advice and recommendations with fellow travelers online. He discussed the idea with his friend Peter Ward, also in his twenties, in a pub over a few beers, and the two agreed to work together. From there they developed and worked on the site in their spare time.

Five years later, has over 13 million members and not only does it offer social networking for travelers but it sells travel insurance, global SIM cards, a mobile translation tool and provides access to travel booking for members. From a basic start up company with two people, thirty five staff are now employed in the company’s offices in London and Poland. has had several approaches for sale with high-rumored valuations.

“I am very excited to be speaking at Africa’s first international E-tourism Conference. I grew up in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, so am particularly proud to be invited to speak here at such a high-profile, travel event. With sales of online travel valued at more than US $100 billion, marketing online and making educated decisions about use of the web is a must for Africa’s tourism sector. I want to share some of my experiences of how Web 2.0 can be used to market tourism,” said co-CEO Jerome Touze.

In conjunction to hearing about the latest trends and technologies in online marketing, all conference delegates will receive, free of charge, US $50 of Google Ad Words credit to use to promote their business using Google’s search engine marketing tools. They will also receive a free printed copy of the new book “eMarketing - the essential guide to online marketing,” by Rob Stokes the CEO of Quirk e-Marketing, which retails for 325 rand.

The E Tourism Southern Africa conference is being sponsored by FNB Bank, Microsoft, Visa International and the Johannesburg Tourism Company. Damian Cook, the MD of E Tourism Africa, said the company is committed to developing and promoting online tourism across the continent.

“This conference offers practical business driven solutions for the tourism trade. We have already received registrations from many of Southern Africa’s leading hotels, airlines, travel and tour operators. Anyone who wants to make their tourism business stronger and more sustainable should attend this event,” said Cook.

The E Tourism Southern Africa conference will be held in Johannesburg at the FNB Building at Fairland on September 1-2, followed by three days of special training seminars for the tourist trade on September 3-5 at the FNB Conference and Learning Center – Sandown, Sandton. Following the Southern Africa event, conferences will be held in Nairobi in October, with additional conferences planned for Cairo and Ghana in early 2009, culminating with a pan African event mid-2009.

For conference registration go to

Global internet innovators speaking at Africa’s first international e-tourism conference

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