Visa and South African Tourism are encouraging the development of authentically African tourism apps, aimed at the increasing number of international tourists using mobiles to plan their travels.
The Africa App Quest, launched at the E-Tourism Summit in Cape Town last week, is challenging local developers to build the best travel app for iOS, Android or Windows.
“There are hundreds of international travel apps out there, but we think this is a great opportunity to create homegrown apps that really capture the feel of Africa and enhance the tourist experience of the continent,” said Claire Olverman, Head of Cross-Border Marketing for Visa Sub-Saharan Africa.
The challenge comes as there has been an increase in the number of tourists using travel-related smartphone apps. A third of all travellers have such an application, according to estimates by SA Tourism, which they used to book flights and accommodation, find tourist attractions and share their experiences on social media.
Research has shown a tremendous increase in mobile devices being used for travel purposes, with Google predicting the number of mobile users conducting travel research on their phone will grow by 50 percent this year alone.
Alongside the increase in app use for travel arrangements, African tourism continues to be resilient to global economic concerns. Tourist numbers across the continent increased by seven percent between January and June this year, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTWO), with tourist numbers in North and Sub-Saharan Africa increasing by eleven and six percent respectively.
SA Tourism’s William Price said that the Africa App Quest is could have huge benefits for the developers and the sector in general.
“Technology is critically important to the success of the tourism sector, and this is a great opportunity for local developers to write apps that could potentially reach a massive global market,” he said.
Olverman said it was up to applicant what purpose their app served, with anything from online booking tools to game spotting apps eligible.
The Africa App Quest starts on January 1, 2013 on the E-Tourism Frontiers website www.e-tourismfrontiers.com. The winner will be announced at the E-Tourism Africa Summit in September 2013.