By Abdoulie Nget
Gambian hotelier and travel agencies have been urged to join Expedia INC., a world’s leading online travel company and largest travel marketplace, inorder to have their products and services exposed to millions of potential customers worldwide.
Gambia Hotels Association (GHA) in collaboration with Expedia on Wednesday organised a one-day sensitisation programme at Kairaba Beach Hotel where tourism stakeholders were exposed to Expedia’s work.
Expedia helps institutions like travel agencies and hotels to sell their product and services using the internet.
“With Expedia one can book a hotel or an airline ticket through the internet within minutes at lower costs,” it is said.
Mr. Diego J. Lofeudo, the Director of Marketing Management Eastern Med and Africa has urged Gambian tourism stakeholders to join the world’s largest internet booking site to create awareness of their services and products worldwide.
“This will help people in every part of the world who have interest in or want to visit Gambia to be able to search and know the products and services available in Gambian hotel industry,” he said in a presentation,
He said, ‘consumers are now pro/sumers’, who participate in the marketing of businesses by expressing observations and experiences about their visits through various websites such as Expedia, Trip advisor and Facebook, among others.
He said most Gambian hotels are not known in the world market, adding that ‘with Expedia, their products, rooms and other facilities will be displayed online for people to access it through the internet.
“Though it will be a challenge as at now for Gambia to sell their products online, nonetheless the exposure will be a step forward,” Diego said.
Mr Alieu Secka, chairman of Gambia Hotels Association (GHA) said Gambia has experienced a decline in the number of tourist arrivals in the past two years.
However, he expressed hope that joining Expedia will make a deference in the future.
He urged the hotels to make use of the internet to expose their goods and services as the training is meant to spur action in them to be proactive in wed-based marketing.
Mr Secka deplored the perennial loss jobs due to the short-term tourist season.
“It is very difficult for someone to be sent home when the season closes,” he said, “this can be only read-off if there is strong marketing in place for tourists to be coming year-round.”
Noah Touray, the permanent secretary, Ministry of Tourism and Culture also believes that the training will impact positively in the country’s quest to reverse the trend of declining tourist arrivals through the use of web-based marketing.
He added: “In the bid to diversify our source base and to remain competitive, it is worthwhile to explore all avenues and I am glad that this seminar is geared towards that.”
Touray said, the internet will not only increasingly impact on promotional materials, but will also be instrumental in cutting-out some tour wholesalers and retailers from the travel product supply chain, thereby enabling direct communication between the suppliers of the tourism products and consumers.