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WTO Seminar on New Information Technologies in tourism held in Maputo, Mozambique

The World Tourism Organization, jointly with the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Mozambique organised a Sub-regional…

The World Tourism Organization, jointly with the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Mozambique organised a Sub-regional Seminar on New Information Technologies in Tourism. The seminar was held in Maputo, from 24 to 26 November, and it was attended by 70 delegates from 10 countries of Eastern and Southern Africa, representing the public and the private sector.

This seminar organised in the framework of the WTO`s Specific Programme for Africa, aimed at providing the region`s tourism organisations with the basic tools to respond to questions related to the new information technologies in tourism, such as how to acquire the necessary expertise in the field of new information and communication technologies; how to develop and maintain the high quality, multi-media digital product databases that will be required; what are the implications for their tourism industry; and how much will it all cost – and what will be the return on the investment.

In his opening address, the WTO Deputy Secretary-General, Dr. Dawid de Villiers, briefed about the framework of the Specific Programme of Activities to Promote Tourism Development in Sub-Saharan Africa and other WTO initiatives such as the STEP; the status of tourism development at worldwide level; and the increasing importance of the new information technologies, such as the Internet, for the development and competitiveness of present and future tourism destinations worldwide.

The Mozambican Minister of Tourism, H.E. Mr. Fernando Sumbana Jr., welcomed the participants and emphasised the key role of the public and private tourism sector in using the new information technologies for the improvement of the tourism activities. He also briefed on his activities as the WTO focal point for the NEPAD Action Plan for Tourism; and congratulated the World Tourism Organization for the efforts made to promote tourism development in a sustainable manner in the Africa region.

The seminar was led by two WTO consultants with a long and substantive experience in this field: Dr. Roger Carter (TEAM) and Mr. Chris Hamilton (Chakari Net). Other experts from the region, including representatives from the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA), South Africa Tourism, Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and Ethiopian Airlines, also shared their experiences with the participants of the seminar.

Together with the main conclusions regarding the General Principles, Marketing, the Policy on Selling, Developing and Managing Destination Systems, Information Management, and Engaging Tourism SMEs in E-Business; the seminar demonstrated:

a) A willingness to share knowledge and potentially to co-operate, reflecting the common interest in the expanding the benefits of tourism in Southern Africa. Potential subjects for cooperation include database structures, system development, research relating specifically to sub-Saharan Africa, future joint marketing, etc.

b) There is potential for developing a continuing relationship, through an ongoing forum. At least in the first instance, this might be through an online forum of those who wish to continue sharing knowledge. WTO has indicated a willingness to help this forum get off the ground.

c) In partnership with this Forum, the WTO will consider the possibility of further workshops to look at specific subjects such as content management, creating dynamic Web sites, search engine optimisation, e-marketing techniques, the relationship between online and off-line marketing and their relative cost-effectiveness, and customer relationship management, with a strong focus on presentation of relevant case studies.