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Travel agents must box clever

11 September 2013 - 03:21 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE
Image: ©StockLite/Shutterstock.com

The travel agent is not dead, despite people booking their own flights and holidays online.

But to ensure they survive, agents have to add value to tourists' experiences amid the exponential growth in technology.

This emerged at the sixth annual eTourism Africa summit in Cape Town yesterday.

Thulani Nzima, CEO of SA Tourism, revealed at the summit that more than 200000 people booked trips to South Africa online last year.

Online purchases had injected more than R790-million into the economy, he said.

"SA Tourism's combined trade and consumer-facing Facebook pages and Twitter feeds have over 747000 friends and followers."

Domian Cook, founder of eTourism Frontiers and organiser of the summit, said there was still place for travel agents.

Though people could book online, most did not have time to compile an itinerary or "research in depth" their destination.

"Innovation is key. It's keeping up with trends, making sure you are accessible online and you've got a good Facebook page," said Cook.

Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said: "Technology is changing the landscape forever and the opportunities that liewithin such change are numerous. Markets are closer than ever before."