It is all systems go as major tourism sector players begin taking advantage of Information and Communications Technologies  (ICT) to drive business transactions. This has seen travel agents and airlines sign major deals with banks like I&M and recently, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), to facilitate eCommerce in the tourism industry.

KCB says it has already signed up at least 20 hotels since last 2010 and is eyeing the airline industry with its visa-enabled cards. This shift by the industry comes at a time when more and more people are relying on the Internet to make most bookings.

KCB has partnered with Knightsbridge to provide international connectivity that will enable hotels to receive payments in advance hence protecting them from defaulters. Hotels signing in to the facility will have to pay a 5% commission on the online transactions but KCB says this can be lower with higher volume transactions.

This comes as good news to holidaymakers who would rather make their payments to the hotel directly and quickly. International travellers will also be at an advantage with this new ICT system.

Meanwhile, the Catering and Tourism Development Levy Trustees have not been left behind as it announced it was joining the electronic money transfer race to ease the remittance of funds by its customers. Hotels will no longer have to worry about submitting their remittances since this will now be facilitated through e-banking and m-banking.

The trust has also set up a website that will provide a platform for eCommerce and online membership registration. This is all geared towards making the industry more efficient as all arms of government seek to seal the loopholes in revenue collection.

A survey conducted by Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurants Association of Kenya indicated that the government was losing KES 236 million in uncollected catering levy annually. This may soon be a thing of the past now but will also stir growth in the sector.