Private tech developers, tour and travel agencies among other stakeholders in the tourism industry have agreed that digital tourism is the new approach that will help the tourism sector to recover from the effects of COVI-19.
This weekend during an innovative tourism and hospitality online meeting, they explored existing opportunities and new innovations that are required to revamp the sector which was the most hit by the pandemic.
Participants included Eric Niyongabo, a tech developer from Kigali.
Niyongabo said that there is a need to create a one-stop platform to have all tourism business offers accessed on the platform which he has been working on under Covid-19 lockdown.
“This idea can help to manage all tourism activities and to sell from one point. Such that if you have an event or competition happening like Miss Rwanda or Tour of Rwanda, it is visible to all. We need to communicate this opportunity to customers as a block,” Niyongabo said.
In Niyongabo’s idea, this is a more integrated platform-which can be closely compared to the kinds of Alibaba.com, or call it a kind of booking com, which also would give tourist navigation on all tourism sites in Rwanda.
For Germain Rwibutso, he said he is developing an application that will help tourists in trip planning to avoid cancelling trips before they even arrive in Rwanda.
“We are developing an automated system that considers the budget interests of tourists. The App will do everything for them in terms of planning and take the hustle off their back. Once a tourist schedule is chosen, we do the rest (like hotel booking car hiring for them),” Rwibutso explained.
For some tech developers, going forward with digital tourism will require more creativity and using existing infrastructure to attract more local tourists than foreign ones.
For instance, as a matter of digital creativity, Amani Samuel said he has developed a digital system which makes tour destinations more engaging and with the potential to bolster domestic tourism and attract online consumers.
“We have all welcomed the Kigali city tour bus as a domestic tourism booster. But the experience can be made more compelling by use of a high quality 3Dimension (3D) model depicting how the place looked in the past.
Basically, the bus would be equipped with VR headsets and while tourists are exploring the first phase of the tour which is the ancient Kigali itinerary, an immersive 3D model replica of the ancient place would be presented to them as a way of enriching the experience and allowing them to see how much change has been made so far.
Amani said despite the challenge of accessing ancient archives on Kigali city, that they are already remodeling ancient buildings and sites in Rwanda that can be visited, thus bringing to the table is a visit “ancient” Rwanda concept or a peek into past history.
Adding to this, the Kigali 360 technology application company says that they are making virtual tours and street views for visitors to explore Rwanda on phone and computer in all (360degree) angles.
“It’s a street view technology that can make one virtually walk the street as if they were there. A prototype is in place already being tested. We have also introduced a live guide tours feature to communicate with the tourists so as to bridge the gap of distance and time,” said Patrick Karangwa the CEO of Kigali360.
Meanwhile Go3D, a new Kenyan investment in Rwanda is introducing the idea of 3D miniatures of memorable places in Rwanda which will give tourists something lasting to take home but also create jobs for printing and sales.
Ever Binamungu the CEO of Ajili Africa said that he is working on a specifically built package only for locals, which always allows them to plan family trips within a limited budget in collaboration with famous destinations in Rwanda.
“We will launch next week and it’s what we are working on now. We are targeting only locals and we have been waiting for the upcountry trips to be open,” Binamungu said.
Belise Kariza the Chief Tourism Officer at Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said that the tourism industry needs such ideas more than ever.
“We need to move to digital tourism as the new way of traveling and communicating. We are also going to focus on domestic tourism of which we will soon, this week or next week launch a new campaign product,” Kariza said
To enable a recovery in the tourism and hospitality sector, Kariza said that Rwanda has put aside $50million to enable sector players to recover from the Covid-19 crisis but also as a springboard to create new digital initiatives in the sector.