BY Staff Reporter

Zimbabwe can further enhance travel experience through the use of emerging technologies, stakeholders at the on-going Arabian Travel Market have said.

The country, through the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, is showcasing its growing portfolio of hospitality offerings at the Arabian Travel Market, and is hoping to build on a record tourism year in which it received 2, 5 million visitors.

This comes as tourism entities around the world continue to rapidly transform their operations and destination offerings in line with the ever evolving needs of today’s travellers.

“The theme of the 26th edition highlights the role that technology and innovation is playing in revolutionising the travel landscape,” Dubai Tourism director general Helal Saeed Almarri said.

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“Dubai has already embraced a ‘digital, mobile and social first’ agenda, placing future readiness at its core and promoting the adoption of the disruptive technology to evolve its destination offering.”

Arabian Travel Market exhibition director Danielle Curtis concurred, adding the power of data was redefining the customer journey.

Curtis believes that travel shows provide the platform on which tourism players can engage, whereas driving the development of sustainable tourism

“The question remains: In a world of accelerating technology disruption, how can the hospitality industry continue to keep abreast with the rapidly evolving innovations surrounding it?

“In our effort to address this question, cutting-edge technology and innovation has been adopted as our spotlight theme for 2019 and will be integrated across all shows, vertical and planned activities… and identifying the top tourism trends that have the greatest growth potential is one of the most valuable insights ATM has to offer,” she said

ZTA head of co-operate affairs Godfrey Koti said Zimbabwe was not too far off the mark, although there was room for improvement.

“We are growing awareness among our operators and the entire industry in the country. It is our hope that we embrace the advent of technology. We have already embarked on the journey to digitasation of the tourism industry,” Koti said.

“We are slowly, but surely driving our strategic position in this regard. We have players who have done their best to align their strategic goals with technology adoption. We are proud of those that have done so and we encourage those that have not started to begin to focus on it.”

“Digital tools are a must for destination Zimbabwe to adopt to, considering that it has been named the third-must visit destination in the world. It is, therefore, imperative for us in authority and government to facilitate the smooth flow of technological advancement, Koti added”

Meanwhile, ZTA met with Saudi Arabia director of tourism Majed Alghanim on possible areas of co-operation and strategic partnerships between the two destinations.

Saudi Arabia is the third-ranked most popular international destination of travellers from the Middle East region, with Egyptian capital of Cairo leading the way as the most searched city destination overall.