IT boost for SA tourism

Read time 2min 20sec

A company to develop IT for tourism, Tourism Multimedia International (TMI), came into being at a signing ceremony at the CSIR in Pretoria yesterday.

This joint venture between the CSIR and Mwamko Africa Trade, Resource, Industrial and Commerce Corporation (Matric) is founded on the success of an interactive CD-ROM recently developed by the CSIR.

The CD-ROM - Visit and Explore South Africa (VeZA) - contains cultural and sightseeing information, as well as holiday planning practicalities, like distance measures and maps. VeZA links back to an online database to ensure that all its information is updated when necessary, while still enabling the rapid loading of images from the CD-ROM.

"The Internet portal records where in the world people are using our product," says Chris Rust, a CSIR program manager. "In the last year-and-a-half we have recorded 400 000 referrals from 75 countries."

TMI is planning to replicate the VeZA technology platform in a number of countries in the region, including Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique.

"Veza, in most of our African languages, from East to Southern Africa, means to reveal, to show, or to open up in order to show," said Sir Quett Masire, former president of Botswana and chairman of Matric in his launch address.

"Matric and the CSIR have today unveiled and revealed to the world TMI and further revealed their bonds of a lasting friendship. As Matric`s chairman, I am glad to preside over this revelation," Masire said. "It gives joy and pride that once again, Africa has contributed to the world of technology and innovation that shall benefit hundreds of people and foster the growth of the African tourism sector, thereby generating jobs across the region."

According to Masire, the diversification of Matric`s interests into tourism and IT is not only of strategic importance to the group, but is also in the spirit of the Nepad strategy, in which tourism is recognised as a major economic driver.

The development of spin-off companies to bring new technology developed by the CSIR to market in SA fits into the organisation`s mandate of bringing new technological development to the industry and the people.

"The TMI joint venture is an excellent example of a public/private partnership which will enhance the value of the CSIR product to the benefit of southern Africa," says Dr Sibusiso Sibisi, the CSIR`s president and CEO. "The CSIR is excited about making this contribution to the tourism industry of the region."

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