The travel and tourism industry is steadily recovering, albeit with some trepidation ahead of next month’s general election.
The industry has fared reasonably well in difficult circumstances over the past decade or so, with occasional setbacks related to security issues or their perception associated with the election campaign, terrorist attacks and everlasting travel warnings. related to terrorism. It was a stop-start affair that really tested a tired but remarkably resilient industry.
The priority for most destinations worldwide is to recover and restore confidence in key source markets. The Ministry of Tourism recently launched the new Kenya Tourism Strategy 2021/2025 in May 2022 in response to recent global market challenges.
Despite its rich and attractive natural and cultural resources, travel and tourism performance measures in Sub-Saharan Africa currently do not compare favorably with the rest of the world.
This could be attributed to the fact that tourism in Africa is at an early stage of development. The continent still faces long-standing development challenges.
The main ones are infrastructure, air connectivity and security. On a positive note, Sub-Saharan Africa continues to outperform the world average in terms of international tourist arrivals and revenue growth. Sub-Saharan Africa is the second fastest growing tourism region in the world, with growth of 5.6% in 2018 after Asia-Pacific and against a global average growth rate of 3.9%.
In 2018, the continent received 67 million international tourist arrivals (+7% increase), compared to 63 million in 2017. This may partly explain why Kenya crossed the two million mark for the first time. international visitor arrivals, as seen in tourism. 2019 industry performance report, just before the Covid-19 outbreak.
Unlike the financial sector, the travel and tourism sector has not taken full advantage of digital technology.
The phenomenal success on the mobile money services front is a strong indicator that travel and tourism also has a clear opportunity to replicate the same success by introducing mobile commerce to facilitate seamless access to tourism products.
Distribution channels in the travel industry have not changed much for a long time. These channels have worked well in the past, but are now ineffective in a fiercely competitive global industry in recovery mode, constantly changing and adopting new technologies.
Digital platforms allow businesses to track metrics and analyze data generated by digital marketing. This data-driven insight helps businesses better understand their customers and recommend better buying options.
Efficient and high-speed ICT infrastructure and software applications are crucial for the development and transformation of this sector through mobile commerce.
Improved connectivity and the use of mobile phones are making tourist attractions more accessible to tourists. Businesses can strengthen their presence in the market by
make their products available online 24/7, and brands can sell services and products to customers around the clock, from anywhere, anytime. The mobile phone has become essential for a variety of daily transactions in the country.
Intense competition in the mobile phone market has seen manufacturers cut prices to improve sales, making the device affordable for more Kenyans. The Communications Authority of Kenya Industry Statistics report covering the first quarter of the financial year 2021/2022 states that as of September 2021, the number of mobile phone devices accessing mobile networks stood at 59, 0 million, of which 33.0 million were feature phones and 26.0 million smartphones.
According to Datareportal, there were 23.35 million internet users in Kenya in January 2022, and the current internet penetration rate stood at 42.0% of the total population at the start of 2022. This demonstrates the scale opportunities on digital platforms for travel distributors.
And with 97% of all internet users in Kenya accessing the internet on mobile phones, it is evident that mobile phone penetration in the country is poised for the adoption of m-commerce in the travel and tourism sector.
The success of mobile money platforms has established a formidable digital culture, a solid base to tap into. Kenya’s main source markets are from the West. Tourists in these destinations are already familiar with online booking and other digital platforms.
They would therefore very much welcome digital solutions that provide deeper authentic experiences in Kenya. This also applies to local travel enthusiasts who are also well exposed to digital platforms.
We therefore have the opportunity to develop and introduce new digital platforms and integrated omnichannel experiences that provide full digital access to the full depth and diversity of local travel experiences for all targeted travelers in domestic market segments, regional and international.
Pre-packaged vacation deals may no longer have the appeal and allure of yesteryear for an emerging breed of relatively young, hyper-connected, tech-savvy travellers, between the ages of around 24 and 40.
This segment of travelers is more likely to seek travel inspiration through mobile devices, including; smartphones, tablets, iPads, desktop computers, social networks and internet technologies.
Tomorrow’s tourism industry will be technology driven. The integration of a digital culture will inevitably support innovation in the industry. This will enable travel suppliers to acquire skills to anticipate customer behavior, adapt to their needs and subsequently attract more bookings, which will create jobs and increase revenues for the sector.
It now seems imperative that the local tourism industry increasingly integrates technology into its business models in order to remain competitive in national and international markets. This will increase the competitiveness and sustainability of the Magical Kenya brand.
Relevant ministries and respective agencies in partnership with the travel industry should therefore maintain close collaboration for the strategic adoption of ICT to maximize the potential of this sector.
Author: Joseph Sanna
E-mail: [email protected] (This is a .co email address, not .com)
Producer: Wasafiri Destinations and travel consultant