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Information technology has become a crucial mean to provide information for any enterprises. It is utilized in all functions by the companies to manage the operations as well as increasing their competitiveness in the marketplace. In the last decade, IT has been made a high jump in it by increasing computing speed, decreasing the size of the equipments, adding new applications, etc. Therefore, the computers will be familiar devices when they are being used in the working environment like the telephones nowadays.
á´¥ The definition of information technology:
" IT is defined as the collective term given to the most recent developments in the mode (electronic) and the mechanisms computers and communication technologies used for the acquisition, processing analysis, storage, retrieval, dissemination and application of information".
á´¥ IT and tourism industry:
Indeed, IT influences on the tourism industry because the customer in this industry gradually becomes use IT so much. Therefore, the tourism destinations and companies need to apply IT in their management to satisfy and get in touch with the customer and develop their performance as well.
IT makes travelers to access and get the accurate information as well as doing reservations instead of the traditional methods which take more time, cost and efforts. The systems that are used by the companies like Global Distribution System (GDS), Computer Reservation System (CRS) assist to "satisfy the needs of consumers for convenient access to transparent and easy to compare information. They cover the entire variety of choices of travel, lodging and leisure services, destinations, holiday packages, as well as displaying the actual prices and availability of such services. These services also provide immediate confirmation and speedy documentation of reservations, allowing a greater degree of flexibility and enabling prospective travellers to book at the 'last minute'".
Also, IT improves the communication between the departments in the establishment and share the information which leads to enhance the service quality of the enterprise (Buhalis, 1998).
á´¥ IT applications in tourist governmental authorities:
Tourist Information Centres (TICs):
TICs have a great value because they have many local information and they are the first point to contact with the tourists in the destinations. Furthermore, they get a feedback when they understand the guests' needs (Yeoman et McMahon-Beattie, 2006). But how do TICs use the information technology?
The Tourism Ministry of a North American tourist destination made a decision to apply an interface for TICs that make them to contact with the ministry by utilizing high technological instruments. Thus, the relationship between the ministry and TICs will be more enhanced and the services which are provided by TIC as well. In addition, TICs can share the information among them in the whole destination instead of each TIC has information about a limit area.
Moreover, The interface is designed to do many functions for tourists which are: information, reservations, bargains, mapping, survey data, report module, currency converter tool, etc.
* The Information Function:
It is used to look for information about areas in the destination. Many people use this service because it is easy to use, easy to get the information and the information itself is continuously updated. Although there are several advantages of this service, some critical points are existed like the speed of system is needed to improve as well as the accessibility.
* The Reservations Function:
This application is used to make reservations on accommodations. It provides different types of accommodations, categories, etc. It is a satisfactory service for most people but some people are preferring to book by making a call because it is easier.
* The Bargains Function:
It is an available service by TICs but actually it is not much used because the guest can get the discount when he/ she making a call to the receptionist of the hotel without need to use this service. But overall, the service are satisfied for people who used it.
* The Mapping Function:
It is a service which assists the tourists to design their itineraries easier and comfortable. The maps consist the attractions, accommodations, restaurants, etc. However, few people do not prefer to use this service for two reasons. The first one is because some maps are included unclear information which people cannot understand them. The second one is some maps are out of date. That means they need to redesign again because some new attractions are existed, the roads' paths are changed, etc. Therefore, Google Maps are preferred.
* The Survey data and report module:
By these two services, TICs can gather the data of the guests like postal code, destination, etc. Most of TICs use these services to assess the information that is got from clients' profiles to understand their needs.
* The Currency Converter Function:
It is a practical function that can TICs use it to convert the currency by the system. So, this function saves the time and effort (Bedard, Louillet, Verne et Joly, 2008 ).
Tourism bureaus use governmental websites :
The Internet websites which are a part of technology are used as a promotional and marketing tool especially in the tourism industry either by the governmental or private sector(Horng et Tsai, 2009). A lot of tourist information can be found on the Internet and it is present in a way that can anyone get it easily either researchers or customers (Pühretmair et Miesenberger, 2006). Also, it is not expensive to promote tourist destinations on the Internet comparing with other media. So, that is why it becomes a huge crucial mean for marketing. Recently, The Asian government tourism websites are used to advertise the local culinary tourism* because this kind of tourism is got more concern. But how tourism bureaus use The government tourism websites to promote culinary tourism?
* " 'Culinary' is the adjectival form of 'cuisine'. 'Culinary' can refer to ingredients, prepared foods, beverages, food production, motivations, activities, institutional structures, and food tourism itself . The phrase 'culinary tourism' was coined in 1998 and refers to international tourists who plan their travels partly or largely on the basis of a desire to experience different and 'exotic' culinary specialties and traditions".
Some of the Asian tourism bureaus design the government tourism websites to offer important culinary information, graphics and some photos to attract culinary tourists who are visiting these sites. In addition, the information which is put about the country's cuisine and traditional food, it makes a good background information of food for guests before they come. Moreover, the government tourism websites have a list and categories of local restaurants. That means the tourists can choose which one of restaurants they want and reserve a table in it.
For instance, Korea Tourism Organization offers a good introduction of the country's food on its websites to market culinary tourism. The introduction covers several items: what, how and where to eat. It contains traditional Korean behavior in eating food with many details and descriptions. Also, there is a list of restaurants for each city classified by quality. Additionally, the websites are utilized to market cuisines by inviting famous people to be in the promotions. Overall, the website consists a lot of details about the gastronomy and food culture.
" In addition, Japan's, Korea's and Singapore's websites all provide the recipes for their best-known local dishes or specialties, including the ingredients and step-by-step procedures, so that online visitors can make these dishes at home, thereby bringing these local cuisines to the world"(Horng et Tsai, 2009).
In conclusion, information technology are used as a fundamental tool to provide many services in several tourist governmental authorities like in tourist information centres in North America. IT assists TICs to do their work smoothly, efficiently and without defects. Therefore, the travelers who are using one of these centres will be satisfied. Furthermore, IT makes TICs to communicate with others and transferring information about the hole destinations and specific areas as well by using an interface. That interface also gives the Tourism Ministry of a North American tourist destination to contact with TICs.
Additionally, the Internet websites as a shape of IT, they are utilized by some Asian tourism bureaus to promote the culinary tourism of their countries. The governmental WebPages comprise many information about gastronomy and food. This tendency will attract a lot of culinary tourists because they will be given what they want!