Showing off the best SA has to offer

Released just in time for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the VeZA tourism package is designed to showcase SA`s major attractions. ITWeb took a look at the pre-release version of the software.
Read time 4min 00sec

SA is under the international spotlight with the start of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The country has been preparing for an influx of tourists and overseas delegates for months, with security being the priority. However, the summit also allows the country to put its best foot forward with regards to tourism. It is with this in mind that the CSIR`s Transportek division has developed the VeZA tourism CD-ROM product.

VeZA (Visit and Explore SA), meaning "to show" in Zulu and Xhosa, is a three disc CD-ROM package that will be distributed by Edutain to all delegates attending the summit. ITWeb got a chance to put a pre-release version (1.1a) of the software through its paces.

The third CD in the set contains the installation software that includes the Adobe Acrobat Reader, Quicktime player and IPIX-plugin. This CD consists of five parts:

* People of SA

* Folklore of SA

* SA music

* A tour of Johannesburg International

* Videos of SA

<B>CD layout</B>
Disc 1: Explore SA
Disc 2: Route Planner and commercial information
Disc 3: Installer, music, people and videos

Each of these parts is broken into subcategories that users can access for more detailed information. The folklore section, for example, contains 10 stories based on the book "When hippo was hairy" by Nick Greaves. The background images on the individual stories are nicely done, but the stories could benefit from multimedia in the form of voice-overs.

The SA music section is a very entertaining area of the CD, with Gallo Music providing 11 samples. The samples range in style from Mbube and Marabi to Amavaka. These clips contain individual CD details with the relevant contact information.

The videos section was a favourite of mine. There are five video clips covering a range of tourist information. The obligatory tourism video is nicely put together without being breathtaking. However, the other four clips really drew my attention. These clips cover topics such as deep-sea fishing, Namaqualand and the big five, with Mango Groove and other local artists providing the music backing for these videos.

Disc one has nine areas covering the country in general:

* Live Africa Webcams

* Lion`s share video

* Interview with Gary Player

* Cultural tours

* Perfect tourist destinations

* National attractions

* Provincial travel guides

* History of SA

* Services, tours, transport and trade

This disc makes up for its lack of multimedia features with many interesting local facts and articles. Unfortunately, the links to the articles were not working in the pre-release that was given to ITWeb. The final release has full-length articles on such topics as the history of the country. It also has a list of SA`s national attractions with information and pictures of each.

Some other useful features include a provincial listing. Each of the provinces has a detailed map that allows for searching using criteria such as accommodation, sport tourism, historical sites and adventure areas.

There is also a detailed listing of local tour operators, accommodation agents and many other services companies. Again, our copy only had a listing of the company names, but the final version has contact details and expanded information on each.

<B>External links</B>

The second disc is a separate program called the VeZA 1.1 Route Planner. It features a useful trip Wizard that allows the user to plan and view a map of the route between any two places in the country. The Wizard also shows the road distance between the two points and approximately how long such a trip will take.

The Route Planner features street maps and the facility to search for places of interest using different criteria, such as 4x4 trails, historical sites, etc. A nice touch is the ability to book online for accommodation at any of the listed places on the CD. Of the three CDs, this is probably the one that is going to be used the most.

Overall, the VeZA tourism package is a worthy attempt to promote the country to foreigners. It also provides useful information for local users. Unfortunately, the shortage of multimedia features and the strange layout of the CDs detract from a good product.

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