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Tour operators to thrive in digital economy

JOHANNESBURG – MORE than 1 300 small businesses within South Africa’s tourism sector are to benefit from a free digital skills training programme.

#LetsInnovate Tourism, the initiative by Zulu Nomad in partnership with Digify Africa, aims to empower and transform the businesses to leverage online platforms for the revival, growth and sustainability of their businesses post the severe impact of COVID-19.

“Being a social entrepreneur in Africa means that we are never short of problems to solve,” said Phaka Hlazo, Founder at Zulu Nomad.

Zulu Nomad is a social enterprise leveraging digital and emerging technologies to enable African tourism capacity and enterprise development at scale.

Hlazo said through the #LetsInnovateTourism initiative, the organisation was committed to driving digital transformation in the sector, starting with facilitating Digital Marketing training for micro-and-small business owners in the tourism industry.

“We are not only about providing information, but we are passionate about seeing it used effectively and ensuring that businesses are able to reap the rewards of investing in digital solutions,” she said.

#LetsInnovate Tourism consists of programmes that can help businesses to capitalise on the gains of digitisation and build awareness on digital tools available for these businesses.

The Boost with Facebook training programme delivered by Digify Africa will empower beneficiaries with social media tools available to tourism business owners through a series of free training sessions.

The initiative is in partnership with key organisations such as the South African Tourism Association (SATSA) #LetsGo campaign, World Travel Market, Africa Travel Week and Digify Africa.

Hlazo noted although tourism contributed close to 9 percent to South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) before the pandemic, and South Africa being a leader in international tourism arrivals on the continent, the sector is made up predominantly of small businesses.

Many do not have the requisite tools to thrive in the digital economy.

Hlazo cited a study on women-owned Tourism Enterprises in Sierra Leone published by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in November 2019.

It established that surprisingly only 16 percent of these enterprises were using email when communicating with clients.

Zulu Nomad believes this statistic carries across several African countries, including South Africa.

“The failure of thousands of small businesses in tourism to meet the requirements of COVID-19 relief funding speaks to the gaps in compliance, processes, and systems that businesses require to be sustainable,” said Hlazo.

She said lauded tourism as a key driver for economic growth and job creation in South Africa.

It has the potential to create prosperity for individuals, businesses and communities but it is also one of the sectors worst hit by the consequences of the pandemic.

“We hope this digital skills training will help revive the entire industry and the economies within the continent,” Hlazo concluded.

– CAJ News

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