Solimar International is conducting a study on behalf of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) to analyze information and communication technology (ICT) tools used in tourism marketing by SMEs in member countries of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
As online marketing is considered a crucial tool for destinations and tourism businesses to use and reach and influence travelers, OIC member governments will use the study in creating policies to support such businesses, especially regarding improving Internet technology and online marketing practices.
COMCEC has been working to enhance economic and commercial cooperation among the OIC’s 57 members and tourism represents a significant driving force for the socio-economic development of OIC member countries.
The performance of tourism SMEs can be greatly enhanced by the Internet as it offers businesses the potential to make information and booking facilities available to large numbers of tourists relatively inexpensively. Appropriate ICT tools can help improve tourism SMEs by enabling them to communicate faster with their customers and distribute their services more efficiently online. In addition, ICTs will also assume a more significant role for tourism SMEs as roughly 68% of hoteliers will shift their budgets from offline to online marketing services
Challenges to Overcome
However, not all tourism businesses have been able to utilize ICT efficiently as many SMEs lack the capital for purchasing hardware and software as well as having insufficient marketing and technology training and understanding.
Most of the OIC members are developing countries, thus representing a significant challenge for COMCEC and OIC as the ICT infrastructure is lacking.
Thus, in order to gather information about current ICT practices and position Solimar to provide recommendations on how to make tourism marketing practices more ICT-friendly, David Brown sent out surveys to hotels and tour operators in the 27 OIC member countries registered to the COMCEC Tourism Working Group for the project.
Titled Effective Marketing Strategies: ICT-based solutions for the OIC Member Countries, the report will also feature eight case studies from OIC members – three of which include visits to Mozambique, Oman and Malaysia – that illustrate successes by tourism SMEs or a country’s policy implementation. Furthermore, a section addressing general challenges faced within all three OIC regions, along with recommendations to ensure best practice, will appear in the study.
Findings from the study will be presented at the 6th meeting of the COMCEC Tourism Working Group on September 3, 2015.
The document will include policy recommendations on how governments can improve the operating environment for tourism businesses. In addition, the study will feature approaches undertaken by tourism SMEs.