by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – A TECHNOLOGY executive has encouraged South Africa to invest in new technologies to make the most of vast opportunities in the tourism sector.
The recommendation by executive Sherry Zameer follows the recognition that tourism has the potential to help South Africa and other African countries grow their economies and create jobs.
“However, ensuring a growing tourism sector will mean constantly assessing fast-moving technological developments that have the potential to change expectations, and create new opportunities—or might not come to fruition,” Zameer said.
He is the regional Senior Vice President: Internet of Things Solutions for Gemalto, the global digital security firm.
Zameer said the next few years would be an exciting time for travel technology as advancements made in the past decade begin to scale up and make network-wide impacts.
He said in South Africa, the potential for autonomous vehicles (AVs) to improve certain tourist experiences was much on the radar.
The non-profit Mobility Centre for Africa is set to run South Africa’s first public AV trials.
“This will begin showing the many ways in which these vehicles could be used to transform tourism,” Zameer said.
Examples include linking the Sandton Gautrain station with other local destinations, running along Durban’s famous beach front, or connecting Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront with the convention centre and city centre.
Zameer encouraged government to embrace biometrics for smoother travel experiences.
South Africa is set to automate its border-control processes for citizens using fingerprints stored in the Home Affairs National Identification System.
A joint project by the Airports Company of South Africa and the Department of Home Affairs will see biometric scanning introduced at Cape Town International in March, with OR Tambo and King Shaka following thereafter.
Tourism is contributing for around 9 percent of South Africa’s gross domestic product, a growth to the economy of R412,5 billion in 2017, which translates into 1,5 million jobs or 9,5 percent of total employment.
By 2028, it is estimated that almost 2,1 million South African jobs will depend on tourism.