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The study explores the field of information communication technology in relation to tourism. The issue of information communication technology and the role(s) it plays in tourism cannot be overlooked. One of the areas of concern is the role of the internet and information technology in tourism. The research data will be extensively analyzed with the study findings being presented both quantitatively and qualitatively as deemed appropriate. Tourism among countries all over the world has been a dynamic scene with considerations on competition and the changes experienced in technology. It has contributed immensely to the economic progress of many countries. By 1998, two million enterprises’ activities were directly related to tourism in Europe. Achieving public attention in marketing and advocacy has been classified as a vital function among all stakeholders in the hospitality and tourism sector in China. The internet has, therefore, provided the springboard of addressing all issues in regards to tourism. Parallel to the huge Chinese population, the government and all the involved stakeholders communicate all the key issues and policies through the mainstream media and of late, the efficient internet popular among the young population (Goodson & Philimore, 2004). In general, global relationships among different nations and radical tourism have been boosted by the key milestones that are a characteristic of the revolution of information technology, specifically the internet. There are many factors that have acted as drivers to world tourism. For example, in the past Europe has enjoyed higher attractiveness to tourists because of the fragmentary nature of various sectors, privatization of companies, e.g. airlines and complex products. However, information dissemination and promotions in tourism are the core factors in the success of tourism at local and international levels. Currently, innovation and creativity in all areas of development is crucial, thus, making information technology a versatile component. In regards to the modernity and advancements, the process of communication has been redefined through internet technology. Technological prowess among various states has been applied to gain a competitive edge in the fields of hospitality and tourism. Tourism is largely considered as the world’s largest industry not only in China but also all over the world. Just like other countries, the revenue gathered from tourism in China supports a key proportion of the economy. This has been recorded in regards to the number of employments that tourism offers the population with. The information technology (IT) sector has been largely utilized in the tourism industry with dominance in advertisement and promotions, online booking systems and management duties. With user friendly terminals, China has evolved the industry by allowing their customers and prospects to book for their services anywhere in the world (Smith, 2003). With a huge reliance on information, tourism cannot operate effectively without IT. Vital and up-to-date information is conveniently gathered from internet sources. The display of goods and services is highly achieved when the internet is used. The influence on potential customers depends on the display of information in order to attract even more customers. This requires the delivery of accurate and timely information that is relevant and must satisfy the tourists’ needs. More tourist demand also amounts to more responsibilities in all authorities concerned with tourism. It is due to these reasons that information is, among many spheres, regarded as the backbone of tourism. The China tourism industry stakeholders have adapted a monitoring and planning system that checks the Visitor Experience and Resource Protection (VERP) program. This system that utilizes information technology is used to monitor the China’s National Parks Service. The program and the use of internet have largely been incorporated in the management plans for all the parks. The tracking of all resources is well supported and guided by the use of information technology systems. The success of the networks both at local and international levels is based on the defined purpose and goals of each IT channel and system. In addition, the maintenance and initiative involved to a significant level relies on public involvement and input of all the involved parties. Another significant aspect of tourism that has benefited from the use of Information Technology is the Visitor Impact Management (VIM). Through established computer and cyber networks, the benefits of visitors’ participation are closely monitored. The China Tourism Board has succeeded in seeking to optimize the net benefits of tourism by making available to a community, the important resources gathered through outdoor recreation (Wellman & Probst, 2004). Online marketing has been significantly facilitated by the incorporation of information communication technology in the tourism industry. Marketing of tourism in China is considered very essential. This way, many companies as a result have greatly improved their products and services in order to gain more competitive advantage. This determines on how well the products of every entity are sold and satisfying their customers. The goal of every service delivery process is to ensure that the customers are recurring and come back again with probably more potential clients. With quick feedback and information dissemination, many service providers ensure additional custom to their clients as required. This way China continues to be a market leader in tourism. China tourism marketing through the internet is geared towards the facilitation of customer satisfaction. The use of internet in the Chinese tourism market has been judged to facilitate and expedite durable relationships in the dynamic tourism environment. This among various stakeholders is achieved through the creation, circulation and promotion of competitive tourist products and services. The Chinese tourism industry has not only embraced the use of information communication technology but also uses the internet medium as a channel of expression for the variant cultures, people, services, travel and other significant products. The internet has played significant roles in gaining that key edge in displaying China as a destination for work, travel and leisure (Goodson& Philimore, 2004). The simplicity in service delivery, yet with class in all the China internet sites, provides potential customers with an easy to navigate portal that is not only attractive but also user-friendly. Tourism has been regarded as the leading driver of many economies all over the world in the 20th and the 21st centuries. The expansive China has over time experienced tourism, making it a great source of employment, fame and wealth creation (Smith, 2003). Tourism in China is viewed as an industry that comprises of an array of services and products that are unique. The huge Chinese population offers market for product and service provided. The use of internet in the Chinese tourism market has been significant in crucial areas of airline promotions, eco-tourism sites, restaurants and natural sites. The government and the involved stakeholders are generally attractive, allowing customers to follow on what interests them. The gradual increase in tourist activities in China as a whole has brought several necessities in regards to the establishment of systems that control all tourism activities. The internet systems involved in the China’s tourism industry are established to monitor and manage the impacts of tourists on the country. These impacts are useful in the monitoring of areas that have been set aside as nature reserves or preserves such as the Western region. The use of information technology is also experienced in the component of protected area management. Cyber networks are extensively used for the recreation monitoring system. The use of the networks is viewed as convenient, user friendly, cost effective and adaptable by many stakeholders. In addition, a standardized method for monitoring and evaluation of China’s information technology networks has been improvised in order to establish a baseline survey of the impacts of tourism as an economic goldmine and industry (Sheldon, 1998). China is gradually placing itself as a leading international tourist destination. Every year, millions of tourists visit China for an array of factors such as its ever-blazing natural and scenic beauty. Similarly, the vast five thousand year history and culture has been a great attraction for tourists who frequent the country. China’s economic reforms and the embracement of information technology have been a boost to international and domestic tourism in the Chinese market. As a result, the tourism industry has gradually become the biggest industry in China. Tourism has largely contributed to the economic reconstruction of China. With science and technology as a pillar of modernization in China, the endorsement of information technology is expected to further the industry in the positive direction. Furthermore, the open door policy that China has adopted towards the tourism industry has seen an influx of international tourists and a further increase in the numbers of domestic tourists. With the utilization of the internet and the large target audience it captures at a go, the number of tourists increased from1.809 million to 41.53 million in the period from 1978-1993. This was averagely a marked growth of 25%. International arrivals in China significantly increased from 6,902 to 50,569 in the period ranging from 1998-2003 (State Statistical Bureau, 2004). It is roughly estimated by the China National Tourism Administration that around 1.83 million people are directly employed in the tourism industry while around nine million are indirectly employed in the same industry. Such information is also derived from the internet and disseminated to all interests and crucial stakeholders who play major roles in the tourism industry at large. In the China’s inland regions, the population lives below the poverty line and the advocacy for tourism in the region is foreseen as an avenue for generating revenue for the region.
Statement of the Problem
The effect of internet on the field of tourism needs to be well explored in order to place it under a clear perspective. If the tourism sector is to be fully exploited for maximum benefits not only in China but also the world, then knowledge on the utilization of information communication technology in the tourism industry should be empirically established. Furthermore, the dynamics of the tourism and information communication technology concepts should be well addressed for full benefits by all stakeholders in the tourism sector.
Objectives of the Study
1. To establish the benefits that can be attributed to the utilization of information communication technology in the tourism industry.
2. To determine the applications of information communication technology dynamics in the tourism sector.
3. To assess the levels of impact of information communication technology applications on the hospitality and tourism fields.
1. What are the benefits that can be attributed to the utilization of information communication technology in the tourism industry?
2. How will the applications of information communication technology dynamics affect the tourism sector?
3. What are the levels of impact of information communication technology applications on the hospitality and tourism fields?
The application of internet technology in the tourism industry in China is a phenomenon that has significantly contributed towards the development of the industry. The application of information and communication technology has acted as the basis of development and is more of a requirement for success rather than a pleasure in the industry. The study, therefore, explores the interaction between information technology and tourism and how the two impact each other as independent industries in China (Hoepfl, 1997). The goal of every service delivery process is to ensure that the customers are recurring and come back again with probably more potential clients. With quick feedback and information dissemination, many service providers ensure additional custom to their clients as required. This way China continues to be a market leader in tourism.
The evolution of cyber network and internet in the modern era are of the key significance in the development of tourism as a sector as indicated by a research by Wellman (2004). The application of technology in a variety of ways in the tourism industry such as promotion and advertising, sales and marketing, monitoring and evaluation has been of remarkable progress. The importance of information communication technology cannot be ignored as it has led to further improvements in the China tourism industry for the past few decades. The growth and development is specifically significant for the China’s rural localities that have been disadvantaged over decades despite the vast resources that are available to them (Wellman & Probst, 2004).
Outstandingly, the opportunities experienced as a result of efficient information dissemination provides advantageous effects in the tourism industry. Previous studies conducted in the fields of information communication technology and tourism indicates that the use and application of technology have opened up underdeveloped areas (especially the remote rural areas). A case investigated by Crank and Pigg (2005) proved that the use of information communication technology has improved tourism at the global level and not just limited to China. Similarly, active participation of all the involved stakeholders in online services and transactions over the internet has largely contributed to the gathering of even more revenue. With information communication technology and internet, all prospective clientele are accessed at the click of a button. With the world as a current global village, millions of people are targeted and a market that was previously not reached is now accessible. Many countries, inclusive of China, have embraced information communication technology and the use of internet as crucial tools for the development of the dynamic tourism industry (Goodson& Philimore, 2004).
Research findings also reflect similar sentiments with the setup of internet facilities being a major characteristic of the tourism sector. Data establishes that the utilization of information communication technology and internet communication improves the efficiency and the output levels of any systems in the tourism industry to a great extent. Generally, the application of the internet and communication technology in tourism has served as the crucial milestone of eradicating all barriers in the tourism sector as a business and also as an economy.
Application of ICT in Tourism
The tourism market is dynamic in nature and significant changes are inevitable in all operations. Over the recent years, there is need for the tourism industries; at national, community or organizational levels to invest in up-to-date technological systems or services in order to gain a competitive edge in the highly competitive industry. For instance, travel agents not only market a country but should also be effective and efficient in the service delivery process. Subsequently, they must liaise with other stakeholders such as the hoteliers in ensuring comprehensive service delivery. These among other transactions are very important and the use of information communication technology and advanced technology has facilitated the realization of the set standards. With a huge reliance on information, tourism cannot operate effectively without it. This vital up-to-date information is conveniently gathered from internet sources. The display of goods and services is highly achieved when the internet is used. The influence on potential customers depends on the display of information in order to attract even more customers.
Levels of Impact of ICT in Tourism and Hospitality
Online bookings and reservations, transport, tour guiding, foreign exchange bureaus and travel agencies in the China tourism industry have largely benefited through the advancements foreseen by the rapid expansion of information communication technology services. These groups interact with scores of potential clientele all over the globe due to the interconnectivity advantages that are as a result of information communication technology development. These impacts are useful in the monitoring of areas that have been set aside as nature reserves or preserves such as the Western region (Sheldon, 1998). The use of information technology is also experienced in the component of protected area management. Cyber networks are extensively used for the recreation monitoring system. The use of the networks is viewed as convenient, user friendly, cost effective and adaptable by many stakeholders. In addition, a standardized method for monitoring and evaluation of China’s information technology networks has been improvised in order to establish a baseline survey of the impacts of tourism as an economic goldmine and industry (Hoepfl, 1997). The gradual increase in tourist activities in China as a whole has brought several necessities in regards to the establishment of systems that control all tourism activities. The internet systems involved in the China’s tourism industry are established to monitor and manage the impacts of tourists in the country (Goodson& Philimore, 2004).
The methodology of this study shall be based on the evaluation of data in the China’s tourism industry with focus on various Internet marketing issues relevant to the China’s tourism industry and web sites. In addition, the researcher will use self-administered questionnaires and assessment sheets, to assess the content and components of individual websites with descriptive content analysis of a sample of Chinese tourism web sites.
The use of qualitative and descriptive methods in attaining the study objectives will be utilized. In fields such as tourism and social sciences, the method is regarded as the most effective approach in data gathering and analysis. The descriptive research method as applied in this study is a crucial instrument in data gathering process of information communication technology information. For the researcher to achieve the study’s objectives, statistical data regarding the field of study will be fully explored (Poon, 1993).
The process of gathering data will determine the study’s variables and research methods to be applied. In this study, the application of information communication technology in the tourism industry and related data will be gathered from internet sources, libraries and other relevant facilities related to tourism.
Data Analysis and Presentation
The data pooled by the researcher will be gathered, classified and organized for presentation. The research findings will be presented quantitatively and qualitatively as gathered in the course of the study. Presentation will be made by use tables, pie charts and graphs showing both the trends in tourism and benefits resulting from ICT usage.