Damian Cook: Online Marketing Best for Kenya's Tourism Recovery

Kenya should invest more in online marketing of the country for faster recovery of its tourism sector, internet marketing company E-Tourism Frontiers has advised. The company yesterday said majority of the world's travel business is now conducted online a changing trend that has seen the tourism sector worldwide embrace the platform.

According to the company, focused on promoting online tourism, 58 per cent of all travel is now researched, booked, bought and sold online as 96 per cent of travellers start their research on the internet. Online global travel sales are expected to double this year, exceeding $350 billion (Sh37.28 trillion) according to E-Tourism Frontiers CEO Damian Cook.

He said there is a 50 per cent increase in mobile use across business and leisure travellers, with 30 per cent relying purely on their mobiles to make last minute bookings. "It is critical that tourism players in the sector make better use of the internet and social media to market and manage their destinations and businesses," said Cook. Internet leads as a source for travel information at 95 per cent, according to the Google confidential and proprietary 2014 quarter three report.

Family and friends are second with 66 per cent while brochures have 53 per cent influence. "It is clear that online is now the arena of choice for travel sales, but we need to look at how we can also use technology to build growth in challenging markets and make our industry more sustainable," said Cook. He was speaking in Nairobi during the launch of the fifth e-tourism East Africa conference set for October 5 and 6.

The conference will bring together experts on online tourism including Trip Advisor, Twitter, Expedia and for the first time in Kenya, Facebook. The event has been supported by leading global payments technology company, Visa. "We are committed to growing tourism especially in-bound travel to Africa. The conference will give the East African tourism sector much needed information and insight from international online travel experts", said VISA senior business development leader for Southern Africa Salome Makau.

The government plans to roll out a Sh5.2 billion recovery campaign for the sector which has faced a two year slump, as a result of security concerns.