Information, Technology and Tourism

Introduction

Information technology has influenced all walks of our lives over the last few decades in a tremendous manner with the Tourism and Travel sector being one of the chief beneficiaries. The introduction of computers can be traced back to the early 60’s when the vacuum tube was the primary component of computer systems. This was largely inefficient and error prone and soon gave way to transistors which were replaced by Integrated Circuits. Now the technological advances have allowed advanced graphics integrated with moving images and sound to be incorporated into the modern computers.

The Tourism product being largely intangible stands to gain a lot from technology. Travel was considered a risk in the early days mainly due to the fact that the knowledge about the terrain, climate, culture etc of the destination was limited or unknown. Only the adventurous and men in quest for newer pastures ventured into such journeys. With the advent of IT into the travel sector, things have changed. Travel has become much more enjoyable and comfortable. The modern day traveller has a plethora of options to choose from, with Internet being the favourite haunt for the potential traveller. Places of tourist interest and scenic beauty often do not catch the attention of the customer largely due to the fact that they are not marketed well. Internet in the early days did not support graphics, video, sound etc. Hence the tourism products could not be marketed over the net effectively. Now things have drastically changed with the introduction of protocols like the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). This has led to easier transmission of graphical images, music, videos etc over the net with speed and clarity. Thus tourism has been effectively marketed over the Internet. This has led to the mushrooming of Tourism and Travel sites. Sentosa singapore 

There are number of software which cater to the needs of the tourism and hospitality sectors. Travel agencies, tour operators, hotels etc use modern systems equipped with powerful applications that work on huge databases. Computerised front office has lent elegance to the modern offices which are largely paperless. Office automation has led to efficient and accurate information processing. A person armed with the right information is the most powerful in the modern era. Computerised systems are used to extract information out of the voluminous quantities of data store in databases. Querying a database, be it for reservation enquiry or booking a ticket is in the hands of the end user. The customer is the king and rightly so has a number of options to choose from when embarking on a journey or getting information about a tourist spot.

Earlier users of computer systems were required to be experts. Even starting up the system required a computer operator. Only then the application could be run. Now systems with Graphical User Interface (GUI) and the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) technologies, even a layman or a child is able to operate a computer or access internet. A person who doesn’t know the local language at a place has information at his finger tips with the advent of touch screen facilities. Almost all banks have now introduced ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) facilities at their premises so as to allow the customers to access their accounts any time of the day.

In the Kerala scenario the advent of IT has been restricted to travel agencies using reservation systems and development of websites by Governmental and non-Governmental agencies. Also office automation is in place in with the accounting process also being computerized. The official website of Kerala Tourism has won many national and international accolades as being one of the best sites in tourism worldwide. In the education sector institutes such as the Kerala Institute of Tourism and Travel Studies (KITTS) has imparted IT education in Tourism sector by giving hands on training to students in GDSs (Global Distribution Systems) and computerized applications. Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) has also fully computerized their reservations and a tourist can easily book a room through the net. Hotels have linked their systems to other global systems so as to establish a link worldwide. Let us examine in brief the applications of IT in Tourism.

Global Distribution Systems

Global Distribution Systems (GDS) have evolved over the years and has played a major role in making online travel possible. A Computer Reservation System (CRS) is used to store and retrieve information and conduct transactions related to travel. They were originally developed by airlines, but it was later extended to travel agents as a sales channel. A functionality of CRS has been extended and what is known as the Global Distribution Systems came into existence. The major CRS operations that book and sell tickets to multiple airlines are known as GDS. Many airlines have opted to divest most of their holdings to Global Distribution Systems due to which many systems are now accessible to consumers through Internet gateways for hotels, car rental agencies, and other services as well as airline tickets. A traveller or a travel agent can chalk out an itinerary using a GDS which is a global system interconnecting airlines, hotels, travel agents, car rental companies, cruise liners etc. The four major Global Distribution Systems are AMADEUS, GALILEO, SABRE and WORLDSPAN. AMADEUS boasts of a market share of 31% and is followed by SABRE with 30% of the market, GALILEO with 26% and WORLDSPAN which has captured 12% of the market.

 

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