North West goes digital to boost tourism

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The North West Department of Tourism has held a lekgotla where industry players explored the benefits of being competitive by embracing digital trends.

Acting MEC for Tourism, Mpho Motlhabane, said the Trade and Investment Lekgotla sought creative ways to deal with the digital divide, create global economic integration and ensure public-private partnerships, with the aim of growing the economy and create jobs.

Motlhabane said one way of achieving this is by working to build an equitable and impartial multilateral trading system.

“Growth and investment is critical to meet the demands of the North West province’s growing middle class, led by an increasingly skilled, educated and tech savvy young people,” Motlhabane said.

Motlhabane placed emphasis on the significance of realising the impact that technology has on the travel and tourism industry as a sector, which continues to sustain a lot of jobs and performs better than other growth sectors.

“Today the world is talking about the 4th Industrial Revolution. We need to find out where we are in that space. Policymakers and tourism enterprises today need to understand the implications of ICT developments and its importance. 

“E-tourism describes the entire range of applications of ICT in the tourism industry, where tour operators, travel agencies, hotels etc., can benefit. The advantages also support other functional activities, which include marketing, sales, operations and many other channels,” Motlhabane said.

Kaizer Dhliwayo, a researcher at South African Tourism, said the world is moving towards digital migration, therefore tourists are more visible on the internet. As a result, online bookings continue to increase, which is why product owners should have an online presence.

“As we measure tourist behaviour and activities, we find that 34% of accommodation bookings happen online. You are able to get an idea of what kind of package to put together for an international tourist by looking at what they typically search for online. 

“Tourists want new experiences all the time. We have to find ways to tell authentic stories about our destinations and give it an impact by doing it digitally so that we can attract tourists from all walks of life. The North West has moved from number 7 to 6th most visited province, drawing 33 300 tourist this year and tapping into the digital space will attract even more,” said Dhliwayo. –