RESEARCH PROPOSAL: ROLE OF INTERNET IN TOURISM DESTINATION-MARKETING IN LIBYA
ROLE OF INTERNET IN TOURISM DESTINATION-MARKETING IN LIBYA
Tourism is considered as the world’s biggest Industry and continues to expand. Its revenues support a significant proportion of the economies of many nations and it is one of the largest employers worldwide. Its contribution to gross national product, employment and regional development are well documented and unlike many other sectors, it is forecast to grow in importance in the coming decades as leisure time increases. (O’Connor, 1999 p1) It is not only the tourism industry that has witnessed increasing growth but also the Information Technology or IT sectors. These include recent developments in the mode (electronic) and the mechanisms computers and communication technologies ”. (Poon 1993 p173) Ironically as IT becomes more high-powered and complex the more economical and user friendly it becomes. Hooper (1990) states in the not so distant future, computers will be as familiar a part of the business environment as telephones are today. They will also be as simple to use as telephones or at least nearly.
Tourism relies heavily on information; Sheldon (1993a) describes information as the “ life blood ” of the industry as without it the sector could not operate. Information is vital because without it holidays and trips could not be organized. Buhalis (1998) argues IT is very important because unlike durable goods, intangible tourism services cannot be physically displayed or inspected at the point of sale before purchasing. Buhalis (1998) further argues they are bought before the time of their use and away from the place of consumption.
Thus the industry is heavily dependent upon depictions and narration (This tends to be information found in holiday brochures) by the travel trade to influence possible consumers. “ Timely and accurate information, relevant to consumers’ needs, is often the key to the satisfaction of tourist demand. Therefore, IT provides the information backbone that facilitates tourism. (Sheldon, 1997 p 411)
Moreover, marketing is essential for companies as it determines on how well their products sell and satisfying their customers so that they come back again and provide additional custom. Marketing consists of individual and organizational activities that facilitate and expedite satisfying exchange relationships in a dynamic environment through the creation, distribution, and promotion and pricing of goods, services and ideas. The simple premise marketing is that to be successful, any organization must understand its customers’ requirements and satisfy them in a manner that gives the organization an edge over competitors. This involves offering the “ right ” mix of product, people, service, pricing, and promotion and distribution channel. (Dibb; Simkin; Pride and Ferrell 1997 p1)
Seaton (1996) views tourism as an industry that encompasses a wide variety of products, which, while sharing some similarities, display many differences in market characteristics and consumer, profiles. This allows the unification of a lot of small and diverse businesses under the umbrella of the tourism industry. These include the accommodation sector in all forms, the cruise and ferry companies, airlines, restaurants plus many more. However the underlying connection is that these companies allow people to use places other than where they live to follow their interests.
Seaton’s (1996) reinforces the view that tourism is a heterogeneous market rather than a homogeneous market. The aggregate of all businesses that directly provide goods or services to facilitate business, pleasure, and leisure activities away from the home environment. (Seaton 1996 p4) As a result of the heterogeneous products on sale are marketed in various ways. For example the big tour companies will market their products in a more advanced way than those of their smaller competitors.
Tourism marketing has not escaped the influences of the IT sector Buhlais; Tjoa and Jafari (1998 p34) state the impacts of IT is evident in the tourism production, marketing, distribution and operational functions of both the private and public sector. Peterson; Balasubramanian; Bronnenberg (1997) argue that although the four Ps (Product, place, price and promotion.) of marketing will remain constant in marketing processes IT will continue to influence the marketing environment. Kotler 1991 supports this statement by stating that the marketing mix will continue to grow, for example people, packaging, programming and partnership have joined the four Ps. (Morrison 1989 p37) however the list should now include, “ issues of technology such as the internet. (Boon; Fur; Susskind 1998 p304) In other words conventional marketing needs to remain customer driven but should adept to becoming more technology based.
While the effect of use of the traditional marketing & promotional tools are sensible, known and understood due to the vast range of the marketing studies, researches & surveying efforts which has been taken in academic and research centers around the world; in the other part still there is a lack of evidences about the role of internet as an effective destination marketing, in spite of this, research investigating the role of internet as a tool for marketing travel related services is in it's infancy.
Libya is considered as a new promising tourism destination in the global tourism market. A notable number of attempts and procedures have been taken by the local authorities in order to develop and establish the entire infrastructure of the country. In addition to that a number of new enactments and rules, which is encouraging the foreign and local investments in the tourism sector, has taking place in the last three years. Therefore, many tourism companies, tour operator, & travel agents start working in this field by supplying services and information to the targeted customers in the world by using the traditional marketing tools abreast with the advanced information & communication tools (internet).
The aim of the following thesis is to examine the use of the Internet as an effective regional destination-marketing tool in Libya. So, the expected finding should present a profile of the penetration of Internet marketing in to Libyan's network of travel agents and tour operators. A major emphasis should be placed in evaluating the nature of Internet marketing practices and web sites characteristics.
This study intends to examine the role of Internet in tourism destination marketing in Libya. Specifically, it seeks to answer the following questions:
1. What are the issues involved in the use of the World Wide Web in the marketing of tourism in Libya?
2. How many websites could be found which contains marketing Libya as a tourist destination?
3. How long has the website been established?
4. How often is the website updated?
5. What is the content of these websites according to
a. The profile provided for Libya
b. Travel Incentives
6. What is the rate of incoming tourist in Libya?
7. Is there a significant relationship between the influx of tourist and the number of Libyan tourism websites?
The websites of the tour operators and travel agents are effective tools in marketing Libya as a tourist destination.
The Significance & Importance
The study will, first and foremost, provide a basis for the Libya’s tourism board on the impact of the utilization of the World Wide Web in strengthening the tourism industry of the country. This would entail concurring activities regarding the empowerment of the industry of tourism in Libya through the help of tour operators and travel agents maintaining their respective websites for the country.
Furthermore, this would be beneficial for the tour operators and the travel agents since there would be a specific study on the performance of their marketing tool, which is their website. The conclusions and recommendations provided in this study would be the basis on what area they should improve on their websites. Moreover, this study would aid in the progress of the emerging tourism industry in Libya.
And most importantly, the Libyan population would benefit from this study. The possible recommendations provided to improve the use of the World Wide Web as a marketing tool for tourism would entail a higher influx of tourists. This would also mean that the income collected from the tourism sector would also escalate. Thus it means that tourism would be one of the formidable sources of sources of income for the nation.
The methodology of this study should be based on the evaluation of a number of Internet marketing issues relevant to the tourism industry and web sites, by using of both self-administered questionnaire, and a content analysis of a sample of Libyan travel agents and tour operator web sites (using a structured assessment sheet consisting of the main elements of successful web site development) and a personal computer to assess the content of the individual web sites. The questionnaire should contains from 18 to 20 questions used to collect information about a specific travel agents and tour operators (what ever they had or not had a world wide web website)
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