ICT Use Is Applied to the Tourism Case Study

Excerpt from Case Study :

ICT Use is Applied to the Tourism and Hospitality Industries

This work in writing conducts a critical evaluation of how use of ICT is applied to the tourism and hospitality industries. This work in writing will evaluate the Disney hospitality and tourism website located at http://disneyland.disney.go.com/.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development reports that the tourism industry has undergone a transformation by the information and communication technologies (ICT) and that the Internet has "dramatically changed the way in which consumers plan and buy their holidays. It has also affected how tourism providers promote and sell their products and services." (2002) The market for tourism is reported to be highly reliant on information and stated as an example is "A consumer in Canada wanting to stay in a remote hotel on a Thai island needs up-to-date information about boat connections, activities on offer, and even recommendations from other travelers. The Internet enables the providers of all these types of products and services to interact directly with consumers around the world at a relatively low cost." (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 2002)

ICT can be used for information exchange about products and services and serves to enable everyone involved in the tourism industry to have knowledge about the services being offered. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development reports that developing countries are "major tourist destinations. However, a large proportion of the profits from tourism drain out of the world's poorer nations and back to large travel firms, hotel chains, and booking and transportation providers based in developed countries. The Internet offers a chance to change that pattern. Tourism providers in developing countries can access customers directly. Their websites can offer authentic flavor, unique insights and specialized local knowledge that a big international provider can't. The challenge for developing countries is to reorganize tourism services so that they can benefit from ICT. Well-designed websites can allow local companies to offer tourists a full package, including reservations, flights, and currency exchange. That way the profits can stay at home and contribute to job growth and economic development." (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 2002)

Developing countries are enabled by ICT to attract approximately 35% of all international travelers annually. These countries are in the process of developing strategies for e-tourism and in fact, at least 24 developed countries have tourism websites. The problem is that these websites "…don't reflect the wealth of local tourism producers and don't allow booking and payment." (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 2002) However, as shopping by Internet in the tourism industry increases it will be necessary that governments as well as national and regional tourism organizations in developing countries "focus on spreading Internet access and setting up linked websites that can cover the entire "value chain" behind international travel. A major challenge will be overcoming domestic bottlenecks in technology, payments, telecommunications, and computer adoption and use." In order to overcome bottlenecks, dialogue is needed among all the various organizations and individuals involved in tourism and towards this end it is reported that the UNCTAD E-Tourism Initiative uses a partnership approach to harness the potential of ICT for tourism in developing countries." (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 2002)

The work of Cantoni, Kalbaska, and Iversini (2009) entitled "E-Learning in Tourism and Hospitality: A Map" published in the Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sports & Tourism Education reports that tourism "has always been described as an information intensive domain (Buhalis, 2000; Gretzel, Yu-Lan, & Fesenmaier, 2000), where information processing and gathering is essential (Sheldon, 1997) for day-to-day operations. Furthermore, recent advances of new technologies have radically reshaped the tourism industry (Buhalis, 2003), changing both ways of communicating with prospective tourists and ways of purchasing tourism goods (Werthner & Klein, 1999)." Tourists are reported to be using new media for purposes of communication and this in on the increase. Tourism managers are reported to understand "that, if properly managed, new technologies can generate a tremendous added value for their organizations. Additionally, recent technological developments and the spread of the internet are having a notable impact on the education process: transforming educational curricula, learning materials and instructional practices (Sigala, 2002)." (Cantoni, Kalbaska, and Iversinis, 2009)

It is reported that the tourism and hospitality industry "has been described as an industry with one of the highest levels of skill shortages and staff turnover." (Cantoni, Kalbaska, and Iversinis, 2009) Training has been reported to be "a critical success factor for the hospitality industry, a factor which is considered to be expensive and time consuming." (Cantoni, Kalbaska, and Iversinis, 2009) However, there has been little in the way of attention "…paid to the role that new technologies already play in the tourism learning sphere, now and in the future." (Cantoni, Kalbaska, and Iversinis, 2009)

It is reported that Sigala (2002) "indicated that the Internet in general and eLearning in particular, offers great flexibility to match specific conditions of work within the tourism and hospitality sector." (Cantoni, Kalbaska, and Iversinis, 2009) Additionally it is reported that eLearning serves to prepare "…students of tourism and hospitality programs to think critically, solve problems and make straight decisions, while being technologically competent." (Cantoni, Kalbaska, and Iversinis, 2009) It is reported that attempts have been made "…to understand and represent the use of eLearning in hospitality and tourism." (Cantoni, Kalbaska, and Iversinis, 2009)

Specifically the work of Braun and Hollick (2006) discusses "how flexibly delivered online skills and knowledge sharing could help capacity building in the tourism industry." (Cantoni, Kalbaska, and Iversinis, 2009) In addition, the work of Haven and Botterill (2003) is reported to have "…reviewed the existing and potential exploitation of virtual learning environments within hospitality, leisure, sport and tourism." (Cantoni, Kalbaska, and Iversinis, 2009) It is reported that destination management organization online learning is a category of training courses created by destination management organizations on three levels:

(1) Representation of a country;

(2) Regional (administrative and geographical part of the country); and (3) Local (capital, city of even a smaller tourist destination)." (Cantoni, Kalbaska, and Iversinis, 2009)

The report states that the geographical distribution of online educational courses in hospitality and tourism is "almost equal: national training courses such as the Mauritius Tourism Training course or the South Africa tourism expert course comprise 45% of the total number (14 courses out of 31), regional courses, such as the Scotland Tourist Board Training or South Pacific Specialist online training for travel agents account for 29% (9 courses) and local courses, such as Abu Dhabi Tourism Champions or Puerto Vallarta elearning Campus generate 26% (8 courses). The main target is travel agents who, with the help of such training, should be able to better communicate and sell the country as a tourist destination, improving the service and knowledge level they can offer to their customers. The main topics presented in these courses cover areas such as: factual information about the country (history, geography, political organization, culture, languages, etc.), presentation of the main attractions, formalities (health issues, visa, custom), information on accommodation, catering, and entertainment. " (Cantoni, Kalbaska, and Iversinis, 2009)

The next category is stated to be associated "with all the course whose provider is a third party other than an academic institution, a tourism enterprise, or a destination management organization, but the main topic of the course remains within tourism and hospitality industry. There is no one clearly identified target in this category, as the courses could be used by all the users interested in the industry: from school children checking their geography knowled8ge, to university students trying to pass a test and get a certificate in English Language in Tourism and Hospitality, to adults who are eager to challenge themselves and get a certificate in Amadeus Online Training or pass a Culinary Tourism Course, to senior people who are interested in travel writing." (Cantoni, Kalbaska, and Iversinis, 2009)

It is reported that 10 main sub-categories are identified as follows:

(1) Introduction to hospitality industry;

(2) Tourism management;

(3) Sales a8nd retail activities;

(4) Catering;

(5) Foreign languages (mainly English) in tourism;

(6) Independent travel agent trainings;

(7) eco-tourism or sustainable tourism development

(8) e-skills development

(9) Cabin crew training

(10) Travel writing Cantoni, Kalbaska, and Iversinis, 2009

Sigala (2001) writes that there has been a "tremendous increase in the adoption and diffusion rates of multimedia technologies by hospitality and tourism businesses…" Sigala writes that multimedia technologies "…are being recognized in industry and academic circles as a significant engine for productivity improvement and business opportunities for enterprises in the 21st century. Indeed, an increasing amount of literature and research advocate how tourism and hospitality businesses can harness multimedia technologies in order to operate more 8 efficiently and effectively as well as to create and add value in their offerings." (2009)

Sigala relates that the "latest technological advancements will be instrumental in the industry's ability to enhance their future efficiency and strategic competitiveness. Hospitality and tourism businesses are highly information intensive." (2009) Poon (1988) is reported by Sigala…

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