Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

Web-Based Platform for Enhancing Tourism Development: An Exploratory Study

Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

Web-Based Platform for Enhancing Tourism Development: An Exploratory Study

Article excerpt

Introduction

Tourism has emerged as one of the major industries in the world economy. In 2011, it contributed almost 4.5 trillion [euro] to the world global economy, or 9% of global gross domestic product (GDP). 100 million direct jobs and 500 billion [euro] investments in tourism (WTTC 2011). Consequently, everyone identifies tourism as a source for generating numerous positive impacts. Generally, it contributes to economic growth and development, promoting global community and international understanding and peace, providing tourism and recreational facilities to local people, improving living standards, stimulating local commerce and industry, reinforcing the preservation of heritage and tradition (Goeldner et al. , 2000). The ground for enhancing all that lies in the quantity of tourists and travelers.

Yet, attracting bigger number of tourists is not a trouble-free process, particularly in times of continuously changing environment and travel preferences. The rapid development of the Internet, particularly in the past two decades, has changed tourism consumer behavior dramatically (Mills & Law 2004). It had an enormous impact on the tourism industry, specifically to the way how tourists search for information. Moreover, the Internet, as well as the on-line social networks (OSN) has influenced tourism in a significant manner by providing a great variety of services and products on-line (Kabassi, 2010). So, the Web became the leading source of information particularly important in times of increased number of competitors in tourism market. Generally, the information technology (IT) is seen as the only source capable to transform the complex phenomena of tourism into valuable competiveness (Law & Jogaratnam, 2005). It was detected as the only way-out to be steady-ready to take prompt action.

With the increased importance of web search in travellers' access to information, tourist destinations and businesses were forced to detect more adequate approaches to adapt to the fast-pace change in the environment (Pan et al., 2011). This particularly addresses the on-line tourism supply since tourist destinations have a strong need to acquire data for potential and present tourists and travelers. Through the mediation of digital environment, the obvious tourists' transformation from "passive audiences" to "active players" is noticeable (Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2000). A noteworthy transformation was made from just passive searching and surfing to creating content, collaborating and connecting. Hence, the development of the Internet and the OSN empowered the "new" tourists who became knowledgeable and ask exceptional value for their money and time (Buhalis & Law, 2008). In this line, the web-booking systems gain in interest as a direction for detecting differences in ways that active/passive tourists use Internet for seeking different kinds of information, booking trips, paying etc. So, tourists need advice about where to go and what to see.

In a tourism domain, recommendations may indicate cities to go to, places to visit, attractions to see, events to participate in, travel plans, road maps, options for hotels, air companies, etc. Such scope of work very often is not a trivial task. In this respect, recommenders assist tourists by facilitating personal selection and prevent them from being overwhelmed by a stream of superfluous data that are unrelated to their interest, location, and knowledge of a place. So, it is much easier for tourists to access the information they need thus resulting in shorter lead-time for bookings, making last-minute decisions and generally, tailoring their own packages from a suite of options. The way out is detected in application of recommender as a promising way to differentiate a site from the competitors.

Generally, the contribution of this paper lies in the fact that the outcomes of the empirical investigation confirm that the development of web-based portals may contribute to increasing the awareness of tourist destination, thus boosting tourism development. …

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