Tanzania bound tourists will soon find it easier to book their leisure travel following invention of an effective reservation web-based portal.
Leisure travel booking has been a nightmare for Tanzania destined tourists, mostly having to spending two days trying to find a place in a tour package.
Currently it takes local tour operators between 8 and 12 hours to close the sale per customer, part of the time used for package designing and e-mailing the client.
But now this trouble is set to be put aside, thanks to Arusha based Bionic ICT firm, for a groundbreaking design of a web-based portal to conduct such design online.
Bionic initiator Jimmy Kihwele says that with the web-based portal dubbed ‘mduka,’ tourists booking for Tanzania safaris will be taking an hour or so, compared to the customary two days effort.
If all goes as planned, the portal will be saving nearly $225million in booking money that was usually earned by middlemen abroad.
“After months of painstaking experimenting, sheer hard work and considerable private funding, the Mduka web-based portal is now ready for public use,” the designer noted.
The portal to be launched later this year is a full featured online call center, an integrated cutting edge web with a multiple sales channel, online quoting and booking engine to allow the customer to search, book and pay for their selected tour packages.
The booking engine will be the most modern quoting and booking interface in the local tourism industry.
“Mduka will offer a one stop experience for tour operators and tourists,” he said, underlining that the web platform will have a tour operators module (TOM), a customers module (CUMO) and a management module (MAMO).
TOM, he says, will allow tour operators to sign up for the service, create packages and pricing, design loyalty programs and track financial data.
CUMO will be enabling customers or potential customers to search for packages based on price, location and package.
Also customers can use CUMO to add additional service such as leasing of local mobile phone with airtime, ability to buy local prepaid cards and load cash in these cards to be used for local purchases.
MAMO will be used by Mduka authorized personnel for transaction authorization, user management and settlements reporting.
To start with, the Mduka gateway will handle business with local tour operators for the first 18 months, then activate a special module for hoteliers where customers will be able to book hotel rooms in the local market.
Today there are over 1000 tour operators in the country, mostly registered with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism while some are not.
“Our verification analytics will only allow those who are registered with the ministry to access our platform. Based on the growth of the industry and regional integration, we are very much confident the industry will double in size in the next three to four years,” the entrepreneur suggested.
Geoffrey Tengeneza, senior public relations officer for the Tanzania Tourist Board, says the portal will help the tourism industry to grow and contribute immensely to the economy.
Mustafa Akuunay, executive secretary of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators, was upbeat about the portal, saying the one stop tourist booking is the way to go, if the tourism industry is to be competitive.
Tanzania earned $1.4 billion from tourism in the year ended October 2011 from $1.2 billion a year ago, helped by a rise in tourist arrivals, according to central bank statistics, with a positive outlook in 2012.
Use of information communications technology in improving visa application and processing formalities, bookings and other travel arrangements is also hoped to ease tourists the registration process, enabling agents to handle multiple applications at a time.