Digital advances are, quite literally, changing the world! Technology has changed how we connect and keep ourselves informed. It has encouraged innovation and made the world a smaller, well-connected place. This has trickled down making its way across sectors, including tourism. Hence, it is not surprising that the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTWO) chose “Tourism and Digital Transformation” as the global theme this World Tourism Day.

UNWTO promotes travel facilitation as a means to boost economic growth around the world. It has been celebrating World Tourism Day on September 27th since 1980.

This year World Tourism Day 2018 provides an exclusive occasion to raise awareness about the potential contribution of digital technologies to sustainable tourism and development. It also provides a massive platform for investment, partnerships and collaboration towards a more responsible and inclusive tourism sector.

For example, South African Tourism has been working relentlessly to bring alive the locations and experiences through virtual mediums. An apt reflection of their efforts would be the Google Street View initiative launched in November 2017, through which travellers were brought closer to the renowned national parks and reserves by accurate visual representation. These virtual initial experiences drive audience curiosity and bring alive the destination to potential visitors thus resulting in travel conversions.

Indian travellers today, mostly millennials, rely heavily on social interaction for recommendations while considering a new destination and activities for their voyage. To tap into the pulse of this growing traveller segment, South African Tourism forayed into the world of social media in 2017 with a dedicated Facebook page, especially customized for the India market. They also launched their Instagram India handle early in 2018. In fact, South African Tourism is one of the very few international tourism boards in India to have a standalone digital presence in the market.

South Africa, because of a healthy economy and rapidly growing international trade, has seen an upsurge of business travellers from India, who have notched up their length of stay from 14 to 19 days. They have also seen a spike in the number of MICE travellers.

What’s more, according to a recent survey by Hotels.com’s Mobile Travel Tracker, 49% of Indian travellers admit to being happier and enjoying more when their smartphones are in close proximity during vacations. The survey states that the average Indian traveller spends 90 minutes a day on social media on holiday with Facebook (96%) and Instagram (66%) being the social channels of choice for #TravelBragging to friends at home, which is higher than the global average of 65 minutes a day. Also, with more than a third of Indian travellers refusing to book a hotel that doesn’t offer free Wi-Fi, there is a clear demand for Indians to be connected at all times.