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Whilst I agree there is enormous potential for meaningful change and sustainable beneficiation for rural economies on the fringe of the traditional tourism ecosystem, the sad fact is that by far the majority of Southern African and, indeed, African tourism businesses fall way behind the technological curve and fail to grasp the possibilities technology presents us with. With an industry still largely struggling to understand how social media works and what a website is, how do we expect the 4IR to have a positive impact and not leave us behind? I am constantly amazed by the number of businesses I deal with professionally that do not have a marketing strategy, let alone a digital strategy! Likewise, the notion of brand identity and brand awareness may as well be a foreign language to a lot of SMEs operating in the tourism space. How many people still believe that a brand is the logo on a letterhead or safari vehicle? How many think that a website is merely a shop window and not the most powerful sales conversion tool in their marketing arsenal? More to the point, how many businesses lack even the most basic understanding of the power and value of content and storytelling in establishing and raising brand awareness and brand loyalty? Before we start getting carried away with where the 4IR will take us, let's have a good look at where we are and understand that we have an enormous amount of ground to cover to effectively compete with our competitors in the here and now, never mind the future. The only way that rural and marginalised communities on this continent can tap into the tourism "run-off" and start to become part of the mainstream tourism landscape is through a paradigm shift in the mindset of the industry, not the technological wonders of the 4IR. There's too much bamboozling going on out there. Tech won't take tourism anywhere unless the industry is prepared to change from within!
Where does this leave the masses of people who are living below the breadline who would love to catch up as well on what is happening in the global community?
I'm all for changes, and I can see that the 4IR will benefit our economy. However, I fear that this will widen the chasm of our socio-economic strata. That is, those who are already in-tune with technology will become richer, and those with no skill nor education will become poor, and stand no chances of employment.
Good observation of the outcome, but what do we do? Keep everyone poor or exercise populations control like the Chinese did, what is your solutions, shared poverty or population control. In 16 years from now SA population will be 108 million up from 52 million. Zimbabwe's will be 30 million up from 14 million
In all honest, I'm not sure what will be the best absolute solution. Skills development is one key component we need.