The East Africa Electronic Tourism Conference took place in Nairobi on October 12 - 13, 2008 and was followed by a three days workshop on how to develop tools such as websites, video, podcasts.
I attended the conference and I was delighted to meet a number of people whose work has informed and educated me on the sub-discipline of Electronic Tourism. One of these names is Peter Varlow. I have to admit that I have read a number of publications by the TEAM Consulting.
Fascinating presentations from global companies leading in areas of tourism and travel technologies also were very informative. Examples of these companies include Eye For Travel, Expedia, Nightbridge, Technology Evangilist, New Mind, Wayn.com, Digital Visitor, Google, Tripadvisor, VISA and Eviivo Front Desk. Other presentations were from Africa based companies and organisations such from SA Direct TV, Hill Consulting, ReceptionBook.com, Africa Point, ICT Consultants Kenya, MaasaiMara.com, Kenya Wildlife Service, AIG Insurance Kenya, Johannesburg Tourism Company, E-Tourism Africa (the host of the conference), and Safaricom on M-pesa.
Presentation on M-Pesa ellicited a lot of discussion which demonstrated the way mobile phones are being used to provide financial services to all areas, particularly in rural areas where traditional financial institutions have been conspicously absent.
On the other hand, from a purely public sector side, Kenya ICT Board CEO's presentation was highly informative highlighting the extent Kenya people have determined to place information and communication technologies (ICTs) to the fore of their socioeconomic agenda. The CEO was optimistic that once the three undersea fiber optic cables under construction land at the coast, Kenya is already to make problems of limited bandwidth history. To him, it is a matter of few months and luckily internal infrastructure will be in place.
At a personal note, the conference enabled me to meet like minded experts in e-tourism. I was able to sell some copies of my book entitled "E-commerce for Development: eTourism as a Showcase." I was also honoured by BBC Swahili Service who conducted an interview which was was broadcast several times. Thanks to mobile phones, a number of people in East Africa sent some text message to inform me that they had listened the broadcast which presentation my perspectives on how East Africa can harness ICT tools to enhance tourism business.