Workshop addresses digital gap in tourism sector

The workshop participants in Suva yesterday. Picture: ABISHEK CHAND

BUSINESSES in the tourism sector can capitalise much more from the digital landscape as it could boost their customer outreach by creating more exposure.

This is the main focus of a two-day workshop held in the country on June 10 and 13, organised by Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) Australia in partnership with Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association.

According to PTI project co-ordinator Onorina Fugawai, participants at the workshop represented the broader spectrum of the tourism sector from the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Trade to local businesses.

The workshop focused on key areas of the digital landscape which the tourism sector could capitalise from such as understanding the accommodation buying cycle, leveraging the company’s website to drive more direct sales, instant booking capability, online third party distribution as well as social marketing.

“We have identified a gap in the market because we have an understanding of the changing needs of the traveller now,” she said.

Ms Fugawai said that for travellers nowadays, everything had to be online so for businesses which did not have an online presence, they were “out of the game”.

Tourism is one of the key drivers for Pacific Island countries and Ms Fugawai said this was an important aspect for that sector.

“And the gap is as many as tourism operators there are, many of them are not online.

Or if they are online, they are not aware of how to utilise the digital mechanisms or engines effectively to be able to increase sales and visitors which is needed to expand their business,” she said.

Senior accounts manager from Booking.com, David Strickland, who was also one of the presenters, said part of the workshop was to educate and ensure properties were maximising their opportunities by being on the website.

“People are looking for experiences and businesses should be able to sell that when someone clicks onto their property page,” he said.

Kay Services owner and managing director Peter Kaniki said after implementing what he learnt from the workshop last year, he saw a 400 per cent increase of visitors.

“The biggest challenge was to transform these visitors into sales, and that’s one of the reasons why I am here — to learn how to capitalise on this,” he said.

The workshop was held in Suva yesterday and will be held in Nadi on June 13.

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