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Grahamstown Tourism Entrepreneur Brings 'Mr. Info' And Jobs To The Province

Story Filed: Tuesday, December 07, 1999 9:10 PM EST

Grahamstown (East Cape News, December 7, 1999) - A Grahamstown hotelier whose imagination was ignited by a system he saw at the Durban Tourism Indaba, is to invest R1,5m in the Mr. Info computer touch-screen tourism and accommodation information vending machines.

Grahamstown hotelier Peter Repinz launched the R2D2-looking machines (which come in three sizes) in Port Elizabeth last week and will be launching more in East London, the Garden Route and the rest of the Eastern Cape in coming weeks.

He has already employed five regional sales managers and 22 sales agents and expected to have 44 sales agents in the field in the coming weeks.

Repinz said he bought the franchise for the Eastern and Western Cape from the Durban-based firm and expected to recoup his capital in 18 months time.

One of the machines, which weigh in at R35 000 apiece, is already in the office of Tourism Grahamstown and the public can expect to see them at airports, tourism offices and shopping centres.

His company, Mr. Info Cape, had 10 units in the field from Cape Town and up through the Wine Route and was heading up the Eastern Cape coast putting in 40 more. He predicted that 500 of the kiosks would be operating nationally by 2001.

He declined to say how much he has already invested, but ECN Business learned that it runs to a few hundred thousand. He said the emphasis would be on international tourists who would be able to find out about accommodation, hospitality and 'what to see and what to do'.

However, South Africans on the national roads this Christmas will be able to make use of the kiosks at 21 Engen One filling station complexes.

The information is free and travellers can, for example, print out strip road maps for the rest of their journey as well as any other information gleaned from their search through the computers' home pages.

Shoppers will also be able to get printouts of shopping mall layouts as well as search for specific shops.

He said the telephone-linked network was updated every 24 hours by the Durban head office.

A regional network of staffers was busy pushing through information and advertising to Durban head office for processing and then pushed it out on the Mr. Info network.

To advertise on the system for a year cost from R1 500 a page and R500 for every extra page. "Pick on" boxes or display panels on the pages cost about R1 000 to R6 000 depending on whether they were regional or national ads.

He said his advertising sales were going well.

"All my eggs were in Grahamstown and I have always been looking at tourism and information. So when I saw the display in Durban I knew it could work."

He is marketing the kiosks to tourism offices in the province.

Copyright © 1999 East Cape News. Distributed via Africa News Online.

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