eTourism Africa Summit 2011 in Cape Town

This year’s eTourism Africa Summit at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, sponsored by Cape Town Tourism and South Africa Tourism, reveals some of the digital marketing tools that members of the local travel industry can use to reach potential customers and build a good online reputation.

Damien Cook of eTourism Frontiers, the host of the summit, points out that if Facebook was suddenly declared a country, it would have the world’s third largest population, with as many as 750 million citizens. He says that about 56% of travel today is researched, booked and paid for online, which is why it is essential to have online booking available for travel products and services.

Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariëtte Du Toit-Helmbold adds that a United States study of 152-million adult travellers revealed that more than half use social media when making travel decisions. “How do we stand out from the crowd?” was the question she asked the audience.

Cape Town Tourism was recently rated the world’s 13th most influential destination-marketing organisation, according to Klout, the standard for online and internet influence. The I ♥ Cape Town Facebook page now has about 233 000 fans, while @capetowntourism has more than 6 500 followers on Twitter.

Delegates at the eTourism Africa Summit get advice from a number of thought leaders in the online travel arena. Below are some extracts from today’s session.


TripAdvisor is a website for travellers wishing to review places they visit and find advice about places they intend visiting. The website attracts more than 50-million users every month.

Helena Egan, head of destination marketing at TripAdvisor, says that about 70% of reviews posted on the website are positive, and establishments can greatly enhance their online reputation through user-generated content. Establishments in South Africa that are listed on TripAdvisor attract almost two million online visitors each month.

Egan adds that TripAdvisor allows establishments to compare themselves to their competitors in terms of user ratings and that they can enhance their online presence by participating in forums on the site.

Visit the TripAdvisor website to learn more.


Tripbod is a system many establishments in South Africa haven’t heard of yet, but one they should learn about as soon as possible. The basic concept is that travellers can use Tripbod to connect with locals at the destinations they are visiting, and obtain travel advice on a number of issues before they arrive.

Tripbod CEO Sally Broom says her organisation would love to hear from Cape Town individuals and establishments and points out that there are commercial incentives for those interested.

Visit the Tripbod website for more information.

Get Twitter updates

The eTourism Africa Summit continues tomorrow. If you aren’t attending, you can get updates on Twitter: #etourismafrica

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