Full Project – Web-based tourism management system
During recent years, tourism has become one of the world’s largest and most powerful industries. With the expansion in tourism, the application of information technology in that area has also developed rapidly. Traditional management tools usually artificially manage text, icons, and pictures, and make a decision through these. But, in today’s fast-developing environment, traditional management cannot meet the demand of updating speed, and it has significant limitations in saving and data modification, and also data would easily be missing. All the shortcomings can lead to inaccurate information, as a basis for managers and decision makers. Tourism information management systems can be developed to meet these growing needs. A tourist information management system is a product which is required when tourism develops to a certain stage. It allows tourism resources to be effectively managed, offers timely and accurate travel information to travelers, and provides tourism management departments the basis for tourism planning and decision-making in order to improve their efficiency.
As Nigerian’s economy rapidly develops and the people’s income increases, more and more people choose tourism as a way of spending their leisure time, with self-tourism becoming the major trend. In this case, many travelers highly depend on tourist information services. They need to search for as much information as possible to help to make their decisions, including itinerary, transportation, hotel and so on. Experts point out that a travel decision-making of tourist, in fact, is a process including tourist information input, processing, output, and feedback. Therefore, this put forward a great demand on a large amount of high-quality easy-to-get tourism information. Web-based tourism information management system can well meet the demand, in which database is used to store a large amount of tourism information, and web pages are used to present the information. Besides, the search engine is incorporated to provide powerful search capability. Different from traditional information management systems, the new tourism information management system we developed has incorporated the web 2.0 concept, which supports timely updates of information. Users not only can get good information service from the system, they can also easily upload new information to the system, thus providing service to other users. In this system, users can interact with each other, sharing tourism information more effectively.
1.1 Background of Study
Tourism involves travel for predominantly recreational or leisure purposes, and also refers to the provision of services in support of this act. According to the World Tourism Organization, tourists are people who travel to and stay in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited (WTO, 2001). Irrespective of its incident duration, tourism has become an extremely popular global activity. Berno (1999) and Mckercher (1996) describe the word tourism as any business like transport, entertainment or places to stay, involved in the service of people who are on a holiday. A tourist is an individual, who visits a place for interest or pleasure, usually during a holiday (Mckercher, 1996).
Tourism industry involves many businesses that are directly or indirectly involved in providing services to the tourists. Tourism is regarded as one of the largest economic resources to a country’s revenue generation. It is a source of foreign currency for developing countries as it involves mobility of tourists to and from one place to another. Developing countries account for almost 30% of world tourism revenue (Dondo et al, 2002). Tourism has numerous tangible and intangible elements as a service industry. Major tangible elements include transportation, accommodation and other components of a hospitality industry. Major intangible elements relate to the purpose or motivation for becoming a tourist such as rest, relaxation, opportunity to meet new people and experience other cultures, or simply to do something different and adventurous. For traveling between close and far off places, maps are required as important tools for providing precise locations.
Over the ages, tourism has been supported by travel-books and tour guides. Typically, such guides include maps that are marked so as to link description of places with their respective locations. For an average tourist, such guides certainly serve their purpose. On the other hand, for the tourists seeking more than just a description, typical tour guides prove unsatisfactory (O’Looney, 2004). Internet revolution changed the way to access information through world-wide web (www) sites of various services. Tourism sector also uses the web technology extensively to publish web pages full of information about the travel, tour and hospitality services. Products and services are being offered online directly to the customers by both tourism suppliers and tourism agencies.
The increased use of the Internet for tourism related e-commerce has attracted considerable attention. For example, an analysis of the US travel market reported in (ATDW 2001) predicted that: in 2002, some 67% of travel customers would do some research online with 37% proceeding to the booking stage; and these US Web travellers would spend just under 30% of their travel budgets online, generating US$22.5 billion annually (McGrath & Abrahams, 2006b, p. 2). Furthermore, (Parker, 2003) predicts continued strong growth in the leading edge US online travel market. This is roughly consistent with more recent research such as Mills & Morrison (2003), who reported global online travel spending of US$6.9 billion in the first quarter of 2002, and PhoCusWright (2003) and Weber et al (2005), who report tourism-related businesses (and accommodation enterprises in particular) experiencing rapid growth in online sales.Travel and tourism is an information-based business. For this reason, it was one of the first sectors to employ e-commerce applications, an example being the airline computerized reservation systems in the early 60s. According to Werthner (2003), travel and tourism have now grown to be the leading application field in business-to-consumer (b2c) e-commerce, representing nearly 50% of total b2c turnover. The industry and its product have specific features which explain this circumstance: the product is a confidence good, consumer decisions are solely based on information beforehand; an industry is highly networked, based on the world-wide cooperation of very different types of stakeholders (Werthner 2003, p. 1). Consequently, this industry depends on advanced IT applications, suggesting that it may provide a good example of what happens and will happen in the emerging e-markets with regards to structural changes and challenging application scenarios.
1.2 Research Statement
There are two categories for the use of a GIS system in tourism, public use and management use. The public wants to find geographic information about a place before they go there. They want to know where things are located, what amenities are available, what the climate is like, and be able to do site specific searches to find information. This can be achieved through Web-based GIS, or Information Kiosks located in key tourist areas. The other user of the GIS is the Management side; management may be done by individual operators, a tourism group, or by the local municipality. Management users want to query the system for where customers are coming from, their socio-economic backgrounds, and good potential locations for new tourist sites etc. therefore, the researcher wants to address this by developing a web base system form tourism and attraction information base, a system that will enhance the search function of tourist for tourist location.
1.3 Objectives of Research
At a theoretical level, the research attempted to provide a knowledge base system for tourism information to tourist. At a physical level, the research investigated state of-the-art tools, development techniques, applications, standards, limitations, and likely future trends associated with the GIS Web-Based System and its application to tourism. On the social side, the study attempted to build on previous research into online technology acceptance among small-to-medium tourist enterprises (SMTEs), and provide an understanding of the managerial issues faced, and possible solutions for gaining wider industry acceptance as a practical means for tourism information integration and utilization. Specific aims of the research were to:
- Provide a web application for searching information about tourist location and relevant information about the site.
- Develop a web based GIS, which will enhance tourist movement to tourist location/site with accuracy and direction, using the Google map.
- A system that will update tourist on their place of choice for tourism, buy giving them an overview of the location.
- Demonstrate the effectiveness of the DMS with regard to usability and value-adding potential for tourism industry customers and service providers – via a survey and experiment.
- Specify a theoretical and conceptual solution to these data-related problems that addresses technical limitations with existing integration approaches and takes into account the critical social dimension.
It is important to note here that the focus of this study ison information integration via the web-based for tourism. Thus, while acknowledging the importance of integration theory in areas such as integration methodologies, data mapping algorithms and approaches, data integration in the absence of commonly-accepted international standards, and the implications of information loss during data mappings, a systematic evaluation of all types of possible model differences using for example, the metadata categorization scheme presented by Hsu (1996), was not undertaken. A rigorous investigation of this is beyond the scope of the study, but has been identified as a promising area for further research, that indeed could build upon the framework established here.
1.4 Thesis Structural Layout/Scope
In this thesis, a web-based tourism information management system, named Web-BTIMS, is described in detail. It is designed in implemented by us in the framework of Microsoft .NET. We followed the general steps of software engineering, as follows:
- Web-BTIMS requirement analysis
We conducted a comprehensive analysis of the system, including functional requirements and non-functional requirements analysis, which is based on a thorough understanding of the operation process.
- The overall design of the Web-BTIMS
The B/S structure with three-tier architecture is adopted, which has the advantages of easy to use and easy to maintain. The clear separation of presentation, business logic and data has made it much easier to extend and modify. The system is divided into six modules: attractions level management, attractions information management, image management, travel management, business information management and user management. A two-dimensional role-based user access control model is adopted, which allows for an implementation of very flexible user management.
- Detailed design of the Web-BTIMS
Based on the overall design, we designed the logic of each module and a collection of specific functions for each module. We also designed database structure and database tables of the system.
- Implementation of the Web-BTIMS
The Web-BTIMS system is implemented using ASP.NET in the framework of .NET. The database used is SQL Server. We have finished all the programming and debugging.
1.5 Research Approach
This section outlines the research approach, which was to formulate grounded theory through a systems development research method, supported by a survey and secondary data analysis.
1.5.1 Grounded Theory
The research aimed to generate grounded theory (Glaser 1967). Grounded theory is concerned with the generation of theory from research, as opposed to research that tests existing theory. With this approach, theories and models should be grounded in real empirical observations, rather than being governed by traditional methodologies and theories (Ticehurst & Veal 2000b). As Jones (1987, p. 25) notes, research should be used to generate grounded theory which “fits” and “works” because it is derived from the concepts and categories used by social actors themselves to interpret and organize their worlds. In the generation of theory, the researcher approaches the data with no pre-formed notions in mind, instead seeking to uncover patterns and contradictions through intuition and feelings. To achieve this, the researcher needs to be very familiar with the data, the subjects and the cultural context of the research. The process is a complex and personal one, as described in Strauss (1987) and Strauss and Corbin (1994).
Although a detailed review of grounded theory is outside the scope of this thesis, the theory is briefly described above to provide an understanding of the underlying philosophy of the research that was undertaken. A grounded theory approach was applied because it was best suited to the exploratory nature of the study, where notably the overarching aim was to observe and evaluate the implications or any other effects of introducing a new technology for the integration and utilization of Web based tourism information. In this case, the grounded hypothesis expresses a viewpoint as to the extent that the Semantic Web and related technologies are likely to assist with the creation, capture, integration, and utilization of accurate, consistent, timely, and up-to-date Web based tourism information.
1.5.2 Systems Development and Survey Type Research
A systems development approach, as described by Burstein (2002), supplemented with survey type research (i.e. Tanner 2002), was used to generate grounded theory.
According to Cerez-Kecmanovic (1994), systems development has also been referred to as engineering type research also known as social engineering. Nunamaker et al. (1990- 1991) assert that it is a developmental and engineering type of research, which falls under the category of applied science. It is grounded on the philosophical belief that development is always associated with exploration, advanced application and operationalization of theory (Hitch & McKean 1960 cited in Burstein 2002 p.151). The research approach may be classified as ‘research and development’ where scientific knowledge is used to produce ‘…useful materials, devices, systems, or methods, including design and development of prototypes and processes’ (Blake 1978 cited in Nunamaker and Chen 1990, p. 631 and Burstein 2002, p.151).
Burstein (2002) explains that systems development denotes a way to perform research through the exploration and integration of available technologies to produce an artefact, system or system prototype. The design of such a system needs to be justified by some preliminary research undertaken to identify a problem and predict the likely success or failure of such a design for addressing the problem. Once the theory is proposed it needs to be tested to show its validity and to recognize its limitations, as well as to make appropriate refinements according to new facts and observations made during its application (Burstein 2002, p. 151).
In consideration of the available resources and the large scale of the tourism industry itself, it was decided that it would be more informative from a research perspective to focus on a specific sector of the tourism industry. Accommodation services represent the largest single economic sector of the Australian tourism industry7. It is for this reason, as well as geographical convenience, that data was collected and analysed from within the Accommodation Services domain of the Australian Tourism Industry. To provide the required holistic view of technology, people, structure and processes within this domain, systems development and an experiment were combined with a survey of tourism operators and analysis of secondary data interviews designed to provide insight into attitudes towards the adoption of a radical new Internet technology.
1.6 Limitation of the Study
Inaccessibility to some documents, which arose due to security, imposed on some of the organization documents by the management. It was not also possible to make an in-dept study of these documents, which would have helped in the development of the project work.
Time was a major limitation to this write up, and development of the web application, there wasn’t enough time to study the details of the various field of the information department of the organization unavailability of textbook needed for this write – up was not found in the institution library.
1.7 Definition of Terms
DATABASE: Database, is any collection of data organized for storage in a computer memory and designed for easy access by authorized users. The data may be in the form of text, numbers, or encoded graphics.
GIS A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth’s surface.
SEMANTIC WEBis an extension of the Web through standards by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The standards promote common data formats and exchange protocols on the Web, most fundamentally the Resource Description Framework (RDF).
WEB-BASED software is software you use over the internet with a web browser. You don’t have to install any CDs, download any software, or worry about upgrades.
WEB INFORMATION SYSTEM, or web-based information system, is an information system that uses Internet web technologies to deliver information and services, to users or other information systems/applications.
INFORMATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (IMS) is a computerized database of financial information organized and programmed in such a way that it produces regular reports on operations for every level of management in a company.
Web-BTIMS = Web-Based Tourism Information Management System
GIS = Geographical Information System
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Full Project – Web-based tourism management system