Mumbai: Taking into account the influence of technology in the travel space, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTWO) elected ‘Tourism and Digital Transformation’ to be the global theme this World Tourism Day. “Harnessing innovation and digital advances provides tourism with opportunities to improve inclusiveness, local community empowerment and efficient resource management, amongst other objectives within the wider sustainable development agenda,” Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary-General said in a statement.
World Tourism Day has been observed on September 27 since 1980 to promote travel travel facilitation as a means to boost economic growth around the world. The official celebration of World Tourism Day will be held in Budapest this year. Other celebrations will take place worldwide including in India, where celebrations are already underway in form of the ‘Paryatan Parv’.
Echoing the sentiment in India, Neliswa Nkani, Hub Head – Middle East, India, South East Asia, South African Tourism said, “Tourism boards are now strategically harnessing technology to innovatively promote their destination to potential travellers. In order for us to effectively reach our target audience, it is essential for us at South African Tourism to vividly bring alive the locations and experiences through virtual mediums. An apt reflection of our efforts would be the Google Street View initiative launched in November 2017, through which travellers are brought closer to our renowned national parks and reserves by accurate visual representation. These virtual initial experiences drive audience curiosity and bring alive the destination to potential visitors thus resulting in travel conversions.”
She added, “Indian travellers today, mostly millennials, rely heavily on social interaction for recommendations when considering a new destination and activities for their voyage – we at South African Tourism realize this. To tap into the pulse of this growing traveller segment, we forayed into the world of social media in 2017 with a dedicated Facebook page, especially customized for the India market. We also launched our Instagram India handle early in 2018. In fact, South African Tourism is one of the very few international tourism boards in India to have a standalone digital presence in the market.”
The Indian outbound market, which comprises of 25 million tourists at present, is all set to double by 2020 according to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). South Africa expects to garner 1.04 lakh tourists from India in 2018 alone.
South Africa, because of the healthy economy and rapidly growing international trade, has seen an upsurge of business travellers from India, who have notched up their length of stay from 14 to 19 days.
They have also seen a spike in the number of MICE travellers to South Africa. It’s interesting to note that for the period of 2017, MICE contributed to 28.5 per cent of total Indian arrivals.
According to a survey by Hotels.com’s Mobile Travel Tracker, 49 per cent of Indian travellers admit to being happier and enjoying more when their smartphones are in close proximity during vacations.
The survey states that the average Indian traveller spends 90 minutes a day on social media on holiday with Facebook (96 per cent) and Instagram (66 per cent) being the social channels of choice for #TravelBragging to friends at home, which is higher than the global average of 65 minutes a day. “With more than a third of Indian travellers refusing to book a hotel that doesn’t offer free Wi-Fi, there is a clear demand for Indians to be connected at all times,” said Daniel Craig, VP of Mobile at Hotels.com brand.
World Tourism Day 2018 provides an exclusive occasion to raise awareness about the potential contribution of digital technologies to sustainable tourism and development. It also provides a massive platform for investment, partnerships and collaboration towards a more responsible and inclusive tourism sector.