Panelists at an e-Commerce and Online Marketing Dialogue have identified the lack of knowledge on the use of the internet as a major challenge to the growth and development of e-Commerce.

According to the panelists, e-Commerce could not thrive if potential clients could not use the internet, hence the need to intensify efforts to educate the public on the importance, role and use of the internet in socio-economic development.

The Dialogue, which took place in Accra on Wednesday in commemoration of this year’s World Tourism Day, was an initiative of Online Hotel Booking Company, Jumia Travel, which is part of Jumia Ghana, the biggest online shopping platform in the country.

It was designed to provide relevant and adequate information, guidance and the resources needed by interested persons to utilize e-commerce and the ‘magic of online marketing’ to be able to build innovative, sustainable and globally-competitive businesses.

It also aimed to encourage and enlighten thriving Ghanaian businesses as well as start-ups on the benefits of e-commerce, online marketing, social media marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

The Dialogue analyzed the various channels of online marketing, its advantages and disadvantages, with a view to finding ways to improving the performance of the industry.

The panelists comprised Claire Staal, Managing Director (MD), Jumia Travel, Ghana; Sofiene Marzouki, MD, Jumia Food, Ghana; Kweku Sakyi, Digital Marketing Specialist, ECHOHOUSE Ghana Limited; and Kelvin Aryee, Social Media and SEO Manager, Digital Ghana Limited.

In an address at the opening of the Dialogue, Ms Staal noted that online marketing, if effectively employed with the appropriate strategies, should translate into sales, increase revenue and grow businesses.

Ms Staal disclosed that Jumia Travel had achieved 1,000 hotels, guest houses and apartments active on its website, adding that in line with the theme for this year’s World Tourism Day- Tourism for All: Promoting Universal Accessibility- Jumia Travel was introducing holiday packages in Kenya and Nigeria, whereby hotel accommodation could be booked with a flight ticket.

The holiday packages, Ms Staal said, were part of Jumia Travel’s efforts to promote domestic tourism.

In a presentation, Mr Bennet Otoo, Public Relations and Marketing Manager of Jumia Travel, Ghana and Moderator of Dialogue, noted that Ghana had been ranked by the Forbes Magazine as the 8th best African country in doing business in 2015 and the 9th largest economy in Africa, with a 7.9 per cent economic growth rate as at July 2015.

Mr Otoo said tourism in Ghana, according to the rankings, maintained its position as the 4th highest foreign exchange earner after gold, cocoa and oil in 2016. He disclosed that out of all the 54 members of the Africa Union (AU), Ghana was one of the 25 countries to be offering visas on arrival to citizens.

He, therefore, stressed the need to effectively employ online marketing strategies while urging stakeholders in both the private and public sectors to work closely together in the promotion and development of the tourism sector of the economy.

Since its inception, World Tourism Day, a day set aside by the United Nations, is commemorated annually on September 27 to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.

This year, the observation of the Day seeks to highlight tourism’s potential to contribute to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), addressing some of the most pressing challenges facing society.

World Tourism Day 2016 is, therefore, dedicated to promoting and advancing universal accessibility in travel and tourism.

According to the World Health Organization, 15% of the world’s population, representing about 1 billion people, many of whom may be unable to enjoy the thrill of travel and the incredible diversity of the planet Earth, live with some form of disability.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO’s) commitment to Tourism for All is, thus, guided by the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, Article 7 of which recognizes that “direct and personal access to the discovery and enjoyment of the planet’s resources constitutes a right equally open to all the world’s inhabitants”.

In a statement to mark the Day, United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, said “Everyone has the right to access leisure and tourism services on an equal basis”

For his part, Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General, UNWTO, noted that failure to consider accessibility in tourism was a denial of a human right- the right to travel.

Dr Rifai, therefore, called all tourism companies, service providers and destinations to work together to remove all barriers, mental and physical, to enriching and compelling travel experiences.

Source: Government of Ghana.