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Tourism, a Major Ecommerce Sector

In June, EFSA will take part in Africa Trade, a new part of the annual hotel and hospitality exhibition, SAITEX. Our contribution will not be confined to tourism and we hope to see all our readers there! However, on the topic of tourism, we have noticed a number of interesting news items. The SA Department of Tourism Tourism points out that tourism has established itself as one of the main drivers of economic growth and the government has prioritised the industry in its National Development Plan 2030. The Dept has embarked on a project to establish a digitalisation framework for the industry and produce adoption roadmaps for all tourism sub-sectors (which are: – Accommodation; Food and beverage; Transport services; Tour operators; Business tourism/meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions; Attractions; Arts and crafts; Sports and recreation)

A 2018 report by the World Travel & Tourism Council revealed the sector contributed 1.5 million jobs and R425.8 billion to the economy in 2018. This represents 8.6% of all economic activity in SA and 9.2% of total employment. Addressing the Africa Travel Indaba in May last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “It is an age where the end-to-end travel experience has been optimised through technology – where decisions on where to go and where to stay are made on the basis of peer review. We must embrace technology. Artificial intelligence, blockchain and the Internet of things requires that our tourism offerings must be well aligned with enveloping technologies. In a few years to come, a tourist will land at our airports and have a self-driven car taking them to pre-programmed tourist destinations. We might soon have to design tourism offerings for robots.” The Dept is now looking for a suitably qualified service provider to develop a digitalisation framework of the tourism sector in SA, which will provide it with invaluable guidance when it comes to deciding on its own investments and expenditure. The technology strategy has not, however, been put on hold as it awaits the project’s outcomes. Instead, recent announcements have revealed that technology features strongly in its agenda for the 2020 financial year. President Ramaphosa explained to the Indaba that SA’s visa regime had been identified as one of the challenges that needed to be addressed and overcome. In addition to the “radical overhaul” to the visa dispensation currently underway, the president revealed the government is working on introducing “a world-class e-visa system”.

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Alastair Tempest

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