IT World Canada
In order to stay competitive in the growing online tourism industry, New Brunswick has unveiled a customer care and management Web site to help draw visitors – and their money – to the province.
“Tourism is a worldwide business that’s changing everyday,” said Bill Thompson, the deputy minister of New Brunswick’s Depart of Tourism and Parks. “We as a province are a player…and we have to be able to compete and sustain our industry.”
In an effort to compete, the province enlisted the help of Microsoft Canada Co. and T4G Ltd., a full service technology consulting company. The result is a government Web site that allows all of New Brunswick’s registered tourism operators to post descriptions of their products and services online and offer them to tourists.
With 56 per cent of travellers using the Internet as a source of information, a 15 per cent growth in the online tourism industry each month and $6 billion in annual online travel booking up for grabs, New Brunswick wants to make sure they are seen on the world stage.
“Tourism is our third or fourth largest industry,” Thompson said. “If we’re not competitive, we can lose a very key element of our economy.”
Owen Sagness, the executive director of the public sector for Microsoft Canada, said all levels of government in Canada are eventually going to have to offer a strong online tourism offering because “that’s where the customers are.”
Sagness also said that the move towards selling a provincial destination online depends greatly on each province’s economic development agenda and the ability of tourism operators to market themselves on the Web.
“For New Brunswick it’s a higher priority,” he said. “In New Brunswick…there are a lot of small [tourism] operators and in that case government needs to take more of an active role in connecting them to the very large base of customers on the Internet. Where in a market like Toronto for example, it’s not going to be as critical because they have the scale and the size to invest in technology. So I think you will see the smaller governments jumping in earlier because they have to act as an enabler.”
Approximately two million people visit New Brunswick each year and spend about $1.2 billion. An estimated 33,000 people in the province are employed in the tourism industry.
The New Brunswick tourism site is at: www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca