WITH Zimbabwe anticipating to grow its annual tourist arrivals, the issue of digital marketing cannot be ignored and therefore the recently launched AccoLeisure travel guide mobile application is a step in the right direction.
According to statistics, mobile applications account for about 37% of travellers shopping for flights and 43% for accommodation. It has also been noted that 90% of all travel is searched online and traveldecisions are based on reviews of other travellers.
And with Zimbabwe targeting such advanced markets as China, India, Russia and many others the unavailability of a mobile platform that highlight what the country has to offer was certainly going to be a drawback.
Speaking at the official launch of the mobile application, Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira who among other things is expected to change the tourism fortunes
“…the digital revolution has changed the way destinations are marketed across the globe. Tourists are better connected now than ever before and this has put increasing demand on the need to provide high-quality content to satisfy the needs of these potential tourists.
“Online statistics have shown that globally, tourists are now using smartphones to explore destinations and products. In light of these developments ladies and gentlemen, it is important for Zimbabwe as a destination to have its own mobile application showcasing tourism products and services.
“I applaud the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and its technology partner AccoLeisure Pvt Ltd for developing the Zimbabwe TravelGuide. This application sets out to bridge the information gap between tourists and service providers and will go a long way in making Zimbabwe facilitiesvisible to the world all the time,” she said.
Most tourism products in Zimbabwe are hard to find online while some service providers have out-dated or inadequate information ontheir websites and various other social media platforms.
So dire is the situation that some actually have non-functioning phone numbers on their websites and Facebook pages and in most cases they never respond to emails and direct messages on Facebook leaving potential tourists stranded.
“I would like to urge all stakeholders especially tourism service providers to give their full support to this initiative for it to be a success. Related to this, is the need to have fresh and excitingdestination content.
“Zimbabwe is richly endowed with tourism attractionsbut these have remained unknown. Full utilization of the ICTs will transform tourism information access and in the process increase tourism arrivals,” shesaid.
Speaking at the same occasion, Fanuel Murove from AccoLeisure Pvt Ltd the company that developed the application said the intention was to bring every tourism service provider under one platform
“With the bid to assist our local and foreign tourists in accessing tourism information we decided to digitalise the tourism industry and bring every service provider under one platform and so the concept is to simplify how you can access information with regards to tourism.
“Wherever you are you can access information from each and every service provider, we are still updating the service providers’information please bear with us but so far we have covered about 70 percent ofthe operators,” he said.
ZTA acting chief executive Givemore Chidzidzi added that the application will go a long way in ensuring tourism customers access information easily and fast using their mobile phones.
“The powerful tool that we call our mobile phone is going to change the lives of people in the tourism industry in Zimbabwe and all our customers we will then be bridging the information access gap and increasing visibility, accessibility and competitiveness of Destination Zimbabwe’s tourism products and services.
“In a tourism environment where information is important and required in the least time possible the application is a vital component of our digital tourism product,” said Chidzidzi.
Meanwhile, Minister Mupfumira has also launched the promotional video for destination Zimbabwe which is expected to be played in various platforms including airlines and international television stations.
“Today I also have the pleasure of presenting to you one of destination Zimbabwe Promotional Videos, which will be flighted on various media platforms and airlines to give Zimbabwe the necessary exposure. “The video takes you through a journey of whatZimbabwe has to offer and this is expected to stimulate the desire to visit thedestination by both local and international tourists,” she said.