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Sunday, August 8, 2010

African Innovators Join Global Experts at Online Tourism Summit in Nairobi

East African tourism industry stakeholders are set to benefit immensely from discourses on e tourism to be presented at a regional e tourism conference set for this week. The conference, which will feature global online giants such as Trip Advisor and Expedia, will focus on how East Africa’s tourism sector can harness the potential of the web, especially following the enormous interest generated in Africa from the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The conference comes in the wake of increased optimism in Kenyan tourism sector following a peaceful referendum and an impending promulgation of a new constitution on Friday August 27.This, coupled with impressive results in tourist arrivals in past half compared to 2007, is set add an impetus to the already stabling growth fuelled by the  improved internet connectivity.

Speakers at the event will include Trip Advisor’s Head of Emerging Markets, Helena Egan and leading Internet innovator Jerome Touze - the company’s CEO and one of the Founders of WAYN.com – the world’s leading travel social network, which has over 16 million members, globally.

Mr. Touze spoke at last year’s E Tourism Africa Summit in Johannesburg and he has since worked with South Africa Tourism on a social media campaign called the “Face of South Africa”, which has been hugely successful, attracting over 5 million views and 20,000 applications for the competition.

“We have achieved some amazing results through social media for South Africa Tourism and I am very pleased to be traveling to Nairobi to speak at the E Tourism East Africa Conference. Its great to see much more awareness and understanding from Tourist Boards about the importance of the web and social media as a strong marketing tool”, said WAYN.com co-CEO Jerome Touze.

E tourism Frontiers CEO Damian Cook, who is the convener, said that alongside the international speakers at this year’s summit, there will also be an impressive number of Africa based companies and projects presenting new and innovative ways of promoting and selling Africa online.

“Since our first conferences in Johannesburg and Nairobi in 2008, we have seen major changes in the way African tourism companies and destinations are using the web. We have some amazing projects in our line up this year- including South African company - Wild Earth who stream game drives live to the world via vehicle mounted webcams and provide Twitter updates and interactions with viewers as they go”, said Mr. Cook.

The ETF CEO added: “African Travel companies have seen the success of tourist produced online viral videos such as the Battle of Kruger, which has been viewed by over 50 million people, and they are now creating platforms for user generated content, reviews and discussions of their products. The web has really made it easy for small players to use technology, creativity and innovation to make a big connection with global markets. It is critical that tourism companies in across East Africa take advantage of online marketing opportunities. The E Tourism East Africa Conference will show them how”

Also presenting at the summit will be ecologist and author Dr. Paula Kahumbu - CEO of Wildlife Direct who have created a blogging platform and social network for conservation projects.  Mr. Kahumbu will also be discussing how Tourism and Conservation can work together online.

Key sponsors of the conference include Kenya Commercial Bank, Safaricom and Crowne Plaza Hotel.