The UN World Tourism Organization and Microsoft Corporation are taking part in a long term partnership to expand information communications technology in the tourism sector. It will provide ICT systems and tools for emerging tourism economies to improve their export competitiveness, product quality and support skills. Its primary focus will be on Africa.
In his keynote speech at the Global Leaders Forum for Africa, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates cited the public/private partnership with United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) as the kind of implementing program that will help over 40 million people in Africa drive toward future economic growth. Gates said “Microsoft wants to play a hands-on role to help countries and entire regions develop their knowledge-based economy, create jobs, spur growth and enable innovation. We can do this by providing easy and affordable access to technology and helping our partners build robust local software economies”. The collaboration with Microsoft has two immediate projects which were announced today:
” The creation of a new Portal called “Windows on Africa” developed through co-operation between UNWTO and NEPAD. The portal will showcase Africa in a globally competitive way: it will be able to be replicated at the national and local levels. It will be capable of linking to visitor centres, museums, and libraries. Ultimately, it will even provide real-time advice via PDA’s and mobile devices with destination specific data.
” Support for the UNWTO Emergency Response System by creation of a portal to aggregate information on catastrophes affecting tourism, to provide a new framework for improved industry response. The portal will bring together public and sector specific data, incorporating tools for information sharing and improved messaging. It will assist tourism destinations and stakeholders to respond more rapidly and effectively in emergencies and help recovery programs. The portal will be used initially to strengthen industry preparedness for a potential avian flu pandemic.
“This Agreement is a huge leap forward for Tourism driven; job creation, export income and capacity building for the world’s poorest countries - especially in Africa where it will be integrated into our programs to alleviate poverty through sustainable tourism. (ST-EP)”. It links Microsoft’s outstanding technology and solutions with UNWTO’s central role of advancing the sector as an instrument of development,” said Francesco Frangialli, Secretary General of UNWTO.
He added “Equally importantly over the next five years we will collaborate closely to build a leading edge ICT dimension into all of our key programs ranging from improved access for tourists through electronic border clearance, to better quality service through distance training and sustainability management at destinations”.