NAIROBI – The first major international E-Tourism conference for East Africa will take place in Nairobi on October 13 and 14 this year. The two-day, E-Tourism East Africa conference, which is being sponsored by Safaricom, Microsoft and Visa International, will bring some of the world’s leading experts on online tourism to the region for the first time. Delegates from Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia, as well as across Kenya are expected to attend.
The conference will feature more than 27 presentations from international and local companies, and it will bring together global online and digital experts, from companies such as Expedia, Microsoft, Google, Digital Visitor, Trip Advisor, Eviivo, New Mind and WAYN (Where Are You Now?) the world’s largest social network for travelers. The international experts will address conference delegates about the new technologies available, as well as highlight marketing and e-commerce solutions, the best use of social networking, the implications of blogging and the importance of user-generated content and online video for the travel trade.
E-Tourism Africa is a pan African initiative to assist Africa’s tourism sector to better understand the internet and the range of online marketing opportunities now available.
The managing director of E-Tourism Africa, Mr. Damian Cook, explained the reasons for the conferences. “It is vital that the tourism sector in Africa becomes aware of the vast online opportunities for business. Over 70% of young professionals rely on the internet to research and book their holidays. Up till now there has been very little information available to the travel trade in Africa on how they can maximize their online presence,” said Mr. Cook.
Safaricom, the title sponsor of the event, said the company had a very strong commitment to tourism and wants the sector to explore all the opportunities available, especially online.
“We see tourism as a major driver of the region’s economy, especially in the lead up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Safaricom’s involvement in the E-Tourism East Africa conference is an example of how Safaricom is helping to support the sector get back on track,” said Michael Joseph, CEO of Safaricom.
“Microsoft, a lead sponsor of the E-Tourism Africa conferences, said it was critically important that the tourism industry across Africa maximize their online presence. “Travel is now the number one selling commodity online and is generating over US $100 billion annually in sales. However, very little African tourism is sold online and finding and booking African destinations on the web can be a challenge. Microsoft is committed to working with its partners and governments in Africa help to provide the technology tools necessary for those in the tourism sector to do business online – especially small and independent travel suppliers. We hope that the E-Tourism Africa conferences will provide the inspiration, motivation and training necessary to get the sector to take the steps necessary to get online”, said Eric Basha, Tourism Industry managing director of Microsoft.
Visa International is also supporting the conference. “With so many products and services being purchased online today, we want to ensure that the tourism sector knows the values and benefits of accepting online payments. We also want to highlight the importance of managing secure payments online,” said Gill Buchanan, Corporate Communication manager Sub Saharan Africa at Visa.
Africa’s first international e-tourism conference – E-Tourism Southern Africa – was held in early September in Johannesburg this year. More than 250 delegates attended. Additional E-Tourism Africa conferences are planned for Cairo and Ghana in early 2009, culminating with a pan African event in Johannesburg in mid 2009.
The E-Tourism East Africa conference will be held in Nairobi at the Fox Cinema at Sarit Center on October 13-14, followed by three days of special training seminars for the tourism sector on October 15-17 at the KWS Training Center in Langata, Nairobi.
Conference Registration for East Africa is open now – www.e-tourismafrica.com