A tourism expert, Oladipo Jemi-Alade, yesterday urged those in the tourism and travel space to use technology to boost their businesses. Jemi-Alade, also the Chief Executive Officer, Jemi-Alade Associates Ltd., a Travel Agency, made the plea at the Tourism and Technology Summit in Lagos.
It was organised by the Brand World Media, in partnership with the Technology Mirror. He said that disruption by technology was forcing travel agencies to innovate or die. According to him, technology is radically transforming the way travel and tourism business is conducted around the world, saying that Africa was not an exception.
“The rapid growth in the travel and tourism sector across regions of Africa is largely driven by technology and numerous initiatives across the continent to attract more tourists,’’ he said. Jemi-Alade said that tourism industry players were beginning to realise that tourism and travel space had become a technological business and were adapting to the new reality.
“African countries are discovering the need to develop and market their tourism potential, and technology is making it easier and cheaper to promote destinations and showcase various tourism endowments.
“Technology has helped reduce operational costs, cost of travel and also simplified visa procurement systems.
“Sustainability of growth in the travel sector is dependent on the sector’s ability to recognise the key drivers and respond to challenges facing it.
“The online movement is the next big wave in travel and is now shaping the way Africans travel within Africa, and how the travel business is conducted on the continent.
“It is daily transforming the entire value chain bringing with it new products, services and experiences,’’ the tour and travel chief said. He said the online and mobile app travel booking were the new trend, adding with over 200 million smartphone users in Africa, the trend was sure to expand.
Jemi-Alade said that African continent was well endowed with various tourism assets and products that attracted tourists from around the world. He said that there were factors against tourism growth and development on the continent, but with the advent of technology, the narrative was changing.
“Recent trends in information technology is changing the narrative by providing cheap and affordable solutions.
“With vast unexploited potential, the future of tourism in Africa is brightly enabled by technology,’’ the chief executive said.
On growth of travel and tourism sector, he said that a total of 65.3 million international tourists visited the continent in 2014.
Jemi-Alade said that back in 1990, Africa welcomed just 17.4 million visitors from abroad.
“The sector has, therefore, quadrupled in size in less than 15 years.
“According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Africa’s strong performance in 2014 (up to four per cent) makes it one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations, second only to South-East Asia (up to six per cent),’’ he said.