Information Technology in Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".
Information technology (IT) is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications.
IT is the area of managing technology and spans wide variety of areas that include things such as processes, computer software, information systems, computer hardware, programming languages, and data constructs. IT professionals perform a variety of functions that ranges from installing applications to designing complex computer networks and information databases. Information technology has deep implications for economic and social development. The most important benefit associated with the access to the new technologies is the increase in the supply of information.
II. REVIEW OF USE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IN TOURISM
Travel and tourism has become one of the world's largest industry and also grows consistently every year. As the world is being ushered into the information age, adoption of the information technology (IT) is rapidly increasing. Internet has transformed the world into a global village that can be navigated at the click of a mouse. It provides potential tourists with immediate access to textual and visual conformation on destinations throughout the world. The Internet has also become an essential tool in business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) transactions, the distribution of products, networking of business partners, and is an instantaneous means of accessing knowledge on all kinds of subjects including travel and tourism information. The Internet can be accessed through mobile telephones, cable-television, fixed telephones using traditional personal computers and laptops.
This ease of access and depth of information has stimulated the emergence of a new breed of travel consumers who are independent and prefer to search for holidays themselves online, rather than through travel agents. And the majority of the people connected to the Internet happen to be from the world's top three tourism spending markets - Germany, USA and UK. The Internet is already the primary source of tourist destination information in these major markets. It has outpaced traditional sources of information on tourist destinations within the short period of its existence. Its audiovisual presentation of information on destinations outdoes the glossiest and most colorful print, and the quality of the presentation plays a decisive role in the end- consumer's choice of one destination over another. Internet also offers tourism destination and businesses the means to make information and booking facilities available to millions of consumers around the world at a relatively low cost, while at the same time enabling them to cut down drastically on amounts invested in the production and distribution of promotional materials. Travel and tourism are fast becoming the largest category of products sold on the Internet. Apart from the Internet, technological advances gave rise to other electronic distribution platforms such as interactive satellite television and mobile devices. These all helps to monitor and build a relationship with the tourists in the entire tourist life cycle.
III. NEED OF INFORMATION IN TOURISM
Travel is a basic human nature. Technological revolutions in the last few decades and the resulting changes in the social systems go faster its intensity in the current century. Thus, tourism is presently a mass phenomenon involving every human being in the world. They need detailed information about each place they intend to visit. The specific elements of such information needs are:
•Geographical information on location, landscape and climate, etc.
•Information Needs in Tourism
•Accommodation, restaurant and shopping facilities
•Accessibility though air, railway, water and road and availability of scheduled means of transport
•Social customs, culture and other special features of the place
•Activities and entertainment facilities
•Seasons of visit and other unique features
•Quality of facilities and their standard prices including exchange rates.
The travel intermediaries like travel agents, tour operators, and reservation system store such information in respect of each destination to service their clients and improve their business. They need the information in the easiest retrieval format so that the information needs of the clients are met as quickly as possible.
Tourists generally need both static and dynamic information. It includes details information about location, climate, attraction features, history, facilities available, etc. Information about airline, train and bus schedules, transport, accommodation units and current availability of such facilities is considered as dynamic as they can change very frequently. These items of information have to be gathered, stored and disseminated on a real time basis. All types of reservation systems including air, railway and accommodation sectors contain such information. The tourism industry is made up of three major components:
IV. INTERNET AND TOURISM
Internet is an interconnected system of networks that connects computers around the world via the TCP/IP protocol. Today, the internet is a global “people’s network” for communicating and sharing information. It consists of two powerful tools- email and the World Wide Web. The WWW is the part of the internet where a vast global information resource, or library, has emerged in recent years. The use of the Internet for communicating and transacting with customers has been growing rapidly in the worldwide tourism & hotel industry. There has been rapid increase in the online booking in the hospitality & tourism industry e.g., e-booking of hotel rooms, airline tickets, travel packages etc. due to the fact that the industry is one of several services – which can be checked, inquired, and ordered online easily, and conveniently communicated and delivered via Internet.
Following are different area where internet is used in tourism industry.
- Booking systems
- Delivery of visitor experiences
- Customer relationships and follow-up.
V. ICT USED IN TOURISM
Information and communications technology(ICT) consists of IT as well as telecommunication, broadcast media, all types of audio and video processing and transmission and network based control and monitoring functions.
Following are some examples where uses of ICT in Tourism is possible:
- Managing destination resources
- Inventory of tourism resources
- Managing sites and attraction
- Indentifying suitable locations for tourist
- Manage tourist statistics.
This article discusses field related to tourism and various information technologies available to enhance the existing infrastructure of tourism industry. The technologies mentioned is mostly applicable in Transport sector, Accommodation sector and Attraction sector. Using this, the present situation of tourism can be improved tremendously in Nepal.