Hunt for Africa’s top tourism app

By Editor
  Published 11 Oct 2012
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In July, the iHub Research team announced that they are working on building a Crowd sourced applications repository .

The Apps collected so far - Notice the categories missing, such as Tourism, Environment, Culture, Security

It was interesting to note that some categories were distinctly missing. Tourism , security and Transport did not feature in the repository of apps available in the region. Neither did:Environment, Culture and Arts, sports and Business Intel.

Few developers have concentrated on these areas, choosing instead to focus on 'heavier' apps, such as those in education, Health, Water , Agriculture, Finance and Service delivery. Citizen's needs in these areas are great, yes - but it could be also that there is more funding available to develop apps for these categories.

The tourism industry, which has largely warmed up to technology, is doing something about it.

Africa App Quest

With tourists increasingly using their mobile devices to plan their travels, Visa and South African Tourism have thrown down a challenge to developers across sub-Saharan Africa to build the best travel app for the region’s burgeoning tourism industry.

The Africa App Quest, which was launched at the E-Tourism Summit in Cape Town recently, aims to get regional developers building authentically African apps to capitalise on the continent’s growing popularity as a global tourist destination.

SA Tourism estimates that a third of all travellers have a travel-related app on their smartphones, which they use to book travel, find tourist attractions and share experiences via social media. Google says the number of mobile users researching travel on their mobile devices will grow by more than 50 percent in 2012 alone.

“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 competition encourages developers to create apps for any mobile device or platform, including iOS, Android and Windows. They also have free rein when it comes to the purpose of the apps, says Olverman. Entries can include anything from online safari guides and urban directories to game spotting and recording apps, online booking and shopping tools, or apps interpreting local culture.

South African Tourism’s Global E-Marketing Manager, William Price says the Africa App Quest is “hugely exciting” for both developers and the broader tourism sector.

“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.

In Kenya a number of Kenyan tech-preneurs have successfully developed mobile applications that have significantly revolutionized the way businesses and consumers interact. These include James Mwai’s Around Me, a mobile app that looks at your GPS position and lists all the facilities around an individual, such as hotels, petrol stations and clubs. By February this year, it had received more than 250,000 downloads.

"I encourage all local developers to take part in this challenge. It’s a great opportunity for Kenyan developers to focus on an app that would benefit both domestic and international travellers to our country, tourism is one of the sectors that has really owned the tech and mobile space and it is wonderful that this competition will further stimulate creativity in the tech sector," said James Mwai, Kenyan developer of the Around Me app.

The Africa App Quest will go live on 1 January 2013 on the E-Tourism Frontiers website Competition rules and details around the main prize for the competition will be available when the site goes live, and there will also be a dedicated Facebook page that will give regular updates about the competition.

The winner of the Visa Africa App Quest will be announced at the E-Tourism Africa Summit in September 2013.

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