Participants at the maiden edition of the Tourism and Technology Summit, which held in Lagos, have called on stakeholders in the Nigeria tourism industry to leverage the many provisions of technology to globalize the sector and grow the industry.
Speaking at the event tagged Tourism and Technology Hackathon 2019, the Director General of the National Office For Technology Acquisition And Promotion (NOTAP), Dr. Dan Azumi Ibrahim noted that the potentials of the Tourism/ICT mash up can be enormous, and need to be harnessed.
The DG, who was represented by the Principal Technology Officer, Corporate Planning Department, John Omesili, said that there are six trends that are playing big roles in the tourism industry. They include Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR and VR); Artificial Intelligence (AI); Internet of Things (IoT); Voice Technology; Wi-Fi connectivity and Wearable Devices.
In his optimism, he said that Nigeria can leverage on these to create new realities in the tourism space. “We have the best brains around the world and we must use them. We could be the first country to sell or franchise virtual reality software for the Digital Tourism in the world. Using real time location sensors, we could create digital experiences never imagined. The potentials of the Tourism/ICT mash up can be enormous.”
The D-G further pointed out that it is important that stakeholder are all strategic in their vision and not expend the hackathon only on hobbyist ideas.
NOTAP is one of the 17- Agencies under the Federal Ministry of Science & Technology (FMST) with the core mandate of regulating the inflow of foreign technologies into the country, as well as encouraging the development of locally motivated technologies. NOTAP evaluates and approves Technology Transfer Agreements for implementation in Nigeria when satisfied with its legal, economic and technical contents in conformity with the national socio-economic objectives.
Also speaking on the event, the chief executive officer of Brand World Media, Clara Okoro enthused that the tourism ecosystem in Africa is evolving rapidly and now is the right time to connect and attract the best brains using technology as a launch pad to change the narratives.
She is optimistic that if Nigeria deploys technology in tourism, half of the problems of the country’s tourism will disappear.
She further noted: “Our belief is predicated on the fact that technology solves problems and more than ever before tourism needs technology to solve its problems in Africa.”
Clara continues: “In the same way the smartphone has transformed telecommunications and media, a comprehensive smart travel model – one that includes smart visas, borders, security processes and infrastructure – will revolutionize tourism. With consolidation of these tools, passengers can book their flights and check in online, have their boarding passes on their smartphones, go through automated clearance gates and even validate their boarding passes electronically to board planes. These measures improve both travel facilitation and security.” The hackathon discussed new apps, new disruptive innovations that can revolutionize the travel industry, new tools that can be deployed across board as an integrative functional tool as a solution.
Some of the speakers at the panel discussion pointed out that Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are veritable channels to sell Africa, and Nigeria to the world.
While noting that AR and AI are taking over tourism and hotel management in some parts of the world, they urged stakeholders not to allow Nigeria to be left behind.
They insist that Africa is the next frontier for tourism, but said that the continent has been neglected because there had been lack of information about Africa, a position that will change fast.
Some of the participants said that despite the huge population of Nigeria, inbound tourism is very low due to the negative perception globally.
The forum agreed that there is a need to polish the country’s global image using technological platforms such as AR while delivering services using technologies like IoT and AI.
The Hackathon was organised by the Brand World Media in partnership with Technology Mirror.