There has been a lot of talk in the last few years on the deteriorating state of the tourism industry, not just in Kenya but in all of Africa. What with radical groups such as the Al Shabaab and Boko Haram causing the issuance of travel advisories against various African states, and governmental policies by others like South Africa that seek to sabotage travel within Africa by making it impossible to get visas to their countries. Articles have been written seeking to solve this problem, creating a hope for foreign income coming in from the East.
We all look to Asia for a savior instead of seeking home grown solutions to these problems. We have covered before how important information technology has been and will be to the economic turnaround of the continent and in this precarious industry, it is no different. The revolution of IT has had profound implications for the management of the tourism industry, mainly by enabling efficient co-operation within the industry and by offering tools for globalisation. In few other economic activities are the generation, gathering, processing, application and communication of information as important for day-to-day operations.
The rapid development of both supply and demand makes IT an imperative partner and thus it increasingly plays a more critical role in tourism marketing, distribution, promotion and co-ordination. The re-engineering of these processes generates a paradigm-shift altering the structure of the entire industry. We will look today at how IT provides unprecedented opportunities for the industry as they continue bridging the the gap between consumers and suppliers and empower closer interaction.
The tourism industry is often defined as the sectored system of innovation and production. This sectored system in tourism is extremely complex; given the fact that the tourism products and actors changes due to changes in the external forces.
Tourism as an industry has three major components: Attraction, Accommodation and Transport. To achieve success in the industry, all these have to be catered to adequately.
Transport provides the essential link between tourism origin linkage destination and it facilitates the movement of holidaymakers, business travelers, people visiting friends and relatives and those undertaking educational and health tourism. Before setting out on a journey of any kind, every traveler makes sure which Transport Company has a good safety record. By extensive us of online marketing systems of brand and image building, companies create and maintain a competitive advantage over each other by their smart use of online influencers amongst other more traditional IT tools of propagating information i.e Computer Reservation Systems and Global Distribution Systems.
In the accommodation sector also the contribution of information technology is prominent. Any individual or group wishing to travel to any part of the world now has an easy access to the accommodation service providers. A visitor can access an information about the kind of hotels at the destination, their ranges of product, the price and other relevant information without leaving his/her office or home. What one has to do is to ring up a travel agency and get the expert advice. The rise of start ups like AirBnB is a good example of how IT systems create easy channels for new players to get an in on the market by innovating the idea of the traditional travel experience, making accommodation cheaper and more readily available for a huge economic demographic that was previously ignored.
The attraction owners particularly the national tourist offices discharge their duty of promoting their country’s tourist attractions using the information technology products. Information through promotional videos, Internet websites, television advertisements and travel documentaries are the main information dissemination tools.
Reservation systems, distributed multimedia systems, highly mobile working places, electronic markets, and the dominant position of tourism applications in the Internet are noticeable results of this development.
With extensive internet use via the online and mobile platforms, throughout all stages of the travel experience, players in the travel and tourism industry are adapting marketing strategies in order to maximise their visibility and to maintain competitive advantage. Moreover, there is a clear shift in booking patterns toward mobile and tablet booking devices. How have the advent of CRS, GDS and the internet impacted travel agencies? That, we will answer next time.