Travellers today are increasingly looking for that ‘perfect’ and ‘authentic’ travel experience to share on Instagram or YouTube with their friends and followers. But how can the traveller, or even the travel trade, find these unique and ‘invisible’ experiences?
It is time for South Africa to embrace technology in order to put our hidden gems on the map and make them visible to everyone. We need to highlight the experiences our country has to offer – the experiences beyond the major tourism attractions. We need to make it easier for the traveller, the tour operator and the travel agent to find what our country has to offer.
However, when it comes to technology, South Africa tends to take a reactive approach and be at the tail end of the global trends. Although South Africa has numerous programmes in place, implemented by both the public and the private sector, to upskill SMMEs in the tourism industry, market access remains a major obstacle for these budding companies.
There is incredible potential to provide a platform that will increase market access for the small and mid-size tourism enterprises in South Africa. We have a wealth of hidden gems in the townships and rural outskirts of our country, which are mostly managed by capable black women. However, these small entrepreneurs often lack the knowledge to promote their businesses internationally.
We live in a world where people spend the majority of their lives on their cellular phones. The younger generations especially will turn to their cell phones for inspiration, for bookings and to share reviews about the places to which they have been. Even in the rural areas of South Africa, we can see cell phones becoming more prominent not only with the youth but also with the older generations.
Let’s leverage the opportunity the digital realm brings.
What if we could access a robust centralised data hub for South Africa’s tourism sector? A one-stop shop for EVERYTHING tourism in South Africa. An open platform to which the traveller and the travel industry can contribute and from which everyone can benefit. What if everyone could understand the industry better, unlock distinct, relevant insights and ultimately make better decisions?
A unique public – private partnership has been formed with the ultimate goal of doing just this: the National Tourism Visitor Information System or NTVIS.
This platform will allow smaller SMMEs to promote their experiences or properties to South Africa’s source markets in the same way the bigger providers promote their offering. It will at the same time bring an enhanced visitor experiences, unlocking the hidden gems of our country to international and local travellers, as well as become an invaluable data hub that will benefit everyone in the tourism industry.
By using technology effectively, we can unlock South Africa’s untapped opportunities to the benefit of all.