Sihle Zikalala, KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs
Durban - As we celebrate Tourism Month throughout September under the banner "Tourism and Digital Transformation", we would like t o applaud the advancements made with respect to the digital communication and the critical role it has played in connecting the global community and making it more possible and convenient to do business across the world.
The tourism industry has hugely benefited from this technological phenomenon as it was now easy to facilitate transnational travel and accommodation bookings through the utilization of different communication instruments ranging from traditional computer networks to mobile cellphone gadgets.
KwaZulu-Natal hasn't been left unscathed by the digital communication experience as we endeavour to claim our slice of the world tourism market.
The deployment of new technology to conduct travel and hospitality business hasn't just assisted in improving competition, but it has also contributed in heightening the quality and standards of customer services. We are therefore delighted to note that our province continues to improve its product and service offerings, which is reflected in the growth trajectory of visitors gracing our shores.
We, therefore, urge our own entrepreneurs in the tourism sector and as well as general citizens to main top drawer customer service and this would result in
transforming our visitors into great ambassadors and mobile bill boards to market KwaZulu-Natal to the rest of the world as the destination of choice.
As stated above, the province is keeping up with the new market trends to remain on the radar screen for both domestic and international visitors hence investing in the deployment of new online communication for convenient dissemination of business information.
We would therefore advise our own people and visitors to make use of the KwaZulu-Natal Travel App to take advantage of our Do KZN packages whilst exploring the province's untapped tourism economic potential that features a combination of breath-taking topographic, natural and cultural attractions.
Certainly, the success in wooing more tourists to the province would guarantee the creation of considerable business and employment opportunities. This indeed, requires the upping of our game in terms of marketing campaigns to draw the attention of potential visitors and investors to the tourism splendour that KwaZulu-Natal could offer to the world.
The power of the digital marketing in the form of the internet amongst other things, provides an effective platform to beam out a plethora of tourism attractions that make this province a unique destination that boasts an infusion of diverse cultures of African, European and Oriental origins that makes KwaZulu-Natal a real home away from home for many people the world over.
Our concerted investment in the new communication technologies is designed to flash out the best and unique tourism and travel products and services with expectations that once the world had sampled them, KwaZulu- Natal would become the shining light that transcends national borders as we work towards regional economic integration.
The combination of user-generated content, feedback, social media integration, global positioning services and artificial intelligence has transformed the way people experience, consume and share information.
Tourism M onth in our province would therefore be underpinned by various activities to reflect on the success stories and as well as hurdles that would need collective ideas to be overcome.
In recognition of tourism players and businesses that had constantly contributed towards the achievement of KwaZulu-Natal's vision of delivering world class tourism customer experience whilst creating new tourism products, we would be hosting the annual Lilizela Tourism Awards that would feature different business categories. The province's crème de la crème to be identified through these prestigious industry awards would represent KwaZulu-Natal at the national level.
On September 27, we will celebrate World Tourism Day (WTD) where we would be putting the opportunities provided to tourism, by technological advances including big data, artificial intelligence and digital platforms on the map of sustainable development. As we stated above, we see digital advancements and innovation as viable vehicles to improve our competitiveness and sustainable growth in the liberated global market.
Together, let's keep the right focus on this important industry and reaffirm the value of harnessing innovation and new digital developments that would ensure that as tourism sectors grows, it also creates socio-economic opportunities for local communities.
Amid constrained economic conditions, tourism business continues hence we believe it could add value to our long-term vision of radical economic transformation that prioritizes the historically excluded sections of our society including the youth and women.