It is important that all companies in the local tourism market continue to increase both their understanding and investment into the online sector.

This is the word from Damian Cook, CEO of the E-Tourism Frontiers, speaking at the launch of the E-Tourism Africa Summit.

“Online travel bookings continue to grow globally, with bookings expected to reach over US $400 billion this year, while 40% of total travel spending will now be online,” says Cook, quoting statistics from online travel research firm PhoCus Wright.

Cook also outlined how online travel growth will increase in emerging markets.
“The combination of increasing wealth among middle-class consumers and greater internet penetration and greater consumer confidence for online payments in emerging markets has led to the rapid increase in online travel sales.
“The great news for emerging markets, such as Africa, is that online travel and tourism is poised to experience solid growth over the next five years – with the Middle East and Africa leading the way in percentage terms, according to Euromonitor.”

He adds that online travel will also benefit from Africa’s growth in mobile.

“With mobile penetration across Africa expected to reach 80% later this year and smart phone ownership currently around 17 to 19% of the continent, according to the 2012 African Mobile Factbook, online mobile travel sales will be very important for domestic and regional travel bookings.”

The E-Tourism Africa Summit will take place on 9 and 10 September at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.