Recovering tourism via technology
—Technology’s role in strengthening the tourism industry post COVID-19
DPI, Guyana, Thursday, July 23, 2020
Earlier today, the Tourism Recovery Action Committee (TRAC) hosted a public consultation for the Ministry of Public Telecommunications (MOPT) to address the advancement of tourism in Guyana via technology.
Director of Community Development and Social Management of the National Data Management Authority (NDMA), and representative of the Tech-Innovative Committee Phillip Walcott explained that one of the group’s objectives is to craft technologically innovative measures that can be implemented in the tourism industry to accomplish and sustain a competitive edge post COVID-19.
Among the measure being considered is the development of an app which will equip tourists with information via the internet. It will offer personalised travel guides which will allow customers to visualise predefined routes around cities and places of interest in accordance with the tourists’ profiles.
Walcott also drew attention to the importance of digital marketing in promoting businesses in the tourism industry. “Because of the wide use of the internet and social media, digital marketing is becoming a popular means of communication and promotion of tourism businesses,” he stated.
He cited the trends of online booking agencies and online tour operators as good examples of the growing use of technology in the tourism industry. Smartphones, Walcott noted, which have become an essential part of our everyday lives, are used to give reviews on hotels, resorts and other tourism-related sectors.
More and more persons are using these reviews to determine their selection in places to visit. So, if we seek to become competitive, we have to ensure that we are a part of this online system to raise our publicity.”
Facebook chatbots were also referenced as a means to promote tourism via technology. A Facebook chatbot is an automated messaging software that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to converse with people. The bots, which are available 24/7, are programmed to understand questions, provide answers and execute tasks/demands.
Walcott also highlighted the importance of kiosks which offer a variety of services, including self-check-ins at hotels.
He noted the increased use of webinars in hosting training sessions in best practices and policies by the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA).
It is expected that the future generation of tourists will have to choose their destinations through innovative reservation interfaces on the web. Walcott said the industry will be prepared to face the challenges that might arise with such an expectation.
“We will certainly through training and equipping our various suppliers in the industry to enable them to become competitive and for us to maintain a fair share of the tourism market.”
Walcott stressed the importance of connectivity and urged the GTA to compile a list of areas that require connectivity to support various business activities, as well as the engagement of telecommunications companies like the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) and Digicel.