Johannesburg - Digitalisation has the potential to open new frontiers and improve resource management efficiency and sector competitiveness in tourism, says the Department of Tourism.
To this end the department in collaboration with the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), an entity of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), today launched the Tourism Technology Grassroots Innovation Incubator Programme (TTGIIP), introducing a pool of innovators to spearhead concepts that will stimulate the growth and recovery of the tourism sector.
Twenty technically inclined entrepreneurs between the ages 18 to 35 have been selected to take part in a two-year tourism incubator programme.
The aim of the programme is to test and improve the viability of the prototypes developed by young entrepreneurs.
Once finalised, the innovations will be introduced to the sector and potential investors for funding, implementation, or as resources for new ventures and new business entrants in tourism.
Dr Anitha Ramsuran, manager of Innovation for Inclusive Development (TIA), sees the partnership with the government as a way to expand the impact of innovation in the country’s tourism sector and other industries.
“Through the TTGIIP, we will see young people demonstrate the role of technology in catalysing sector growth through the development of enterprises that will stimulate job creation in the tourism sector.”
“We hope that the success of this first cohort of TTGIIP innovators is a testament to the role of TIA as an industry builder. TIA will play its part in facilitating and translating the Innovations of the twenty (20) tourism entrepreneurs into sustainable enterprises that will make an economic impact not just in the industry but in their communities as well,” he said.
As the grip of covid-19 begins to steadily loosen, the grim economic conditions faced by the youth of South Africa are a stark reminder for the government and the private sector to look beyond conventional business methods to rebuild their economies.
The Tourism Sector Recovery Plan advocates for the use of technology as an integral element in tourism operations. Digitalisation has the potential to open new frontiers and improve resource management efficiency and sector competitiveness.
Addressing guests at the launch, Deputy Minister of Tourism Fish Mahlalela said tourism’s significance in the country’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) is asserted by its ability to generate demand and production opportunities across various sectors of the economy.
Leveraging innovation and technological advancements bode well to accelerate the sector’s recovery while creating sustainable and inclusive opportunities that promote industrialisation.
“Technology advancements play a fundamental role in the growth and sustainability of tourism. Innovation, coupled with a multi-stakeholder implementation approach that encourages private sector and civil society participation, will be critical to the success of the TTGIIP. The gains of this initiative will create opportunities on the demand and supply side of tourism - empowering communities, promoting inclusiveness, and driving the socio-economic recovery of the sector,” said Deputy Minister Mahlalela.
“The TTGIIP is aimed at ensuring the meaningful involvement of youth and women in the travel and hospitality industry by capitalising on their intellectual and technological prowess to evolve traditional business systems and practices to stimulate new services, entrepreneurial and job opportunities in the sector,” added the Deputy Minister.