Leveraging tourism and hospitality business performance through information communication technology : A case study of tour operators in Harare and Victoria Falls.
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The tourism industry has been a key pillar in the economic development of Zimbabwe. In 2009 the government established a stand-alone Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality industry thus recognizing the role that tourism played in the overall economic development of the country. The tourism industry is regarded as a major source of employment creation, a contributor to the country‟s gross domestic product (GDP) and a source of foreign currency. The distribution of the tourist product has witnessed major changes as a result of the adoption and use of information communication technologies (ICTs) by both stakeholders in the tourism industry and tourists. The use of the internet and the World Wide Web created a situation whereby potential tourist were able to source information for their holiday needs directly from the suppliers using the internet. Tour operators had therefore to adopt new business models in order to survive in the new business environment. The purpose of this study was to investigate the strategies that tour operators in Zimbabwe can adopt in order to improve their competitive advantage through the use of information communication technologies. This study focussed on investigating the extent to which the Zimbabwean tour operators were using the „traditional‟ model for product distribution. It assessed the level of adoption of information communication technologies by the tour operators and identified the main deterrents to ICT adoption. The objectives of the study were: 1. to assess the extent to which Zimbabwean tour operators are still using the “traditional” tour operator business model; 2. to identify the factors limiting the adoption of information communication technology based business models by tour operators in Zimbabwean; 3. to develop an appropriate business model for Zimbabwe tour operating enterprises; 4. to recommend ways in which Zimbabwean tour operators can enhance their business performance and sustainability using an ICT based business model; and 5. to make policy recommendations to government that will encourage tourism enterprises to adopt information communication technologies in their The research was based on a sample of 181 registered tour operators drawn from Harare and Victoria Falls. The study also identified ten key informants from the tourism industry with whom face-to-face interviews were held. Finally, an analysis of the websites of the sampled tour operators was carried out with a view of triangulating the data from survey of the tour operators and the outcomes of the respondents‟ interviews. The results indicated that the majority of the tour operators had adopted one form of ICTs or another which were mainly used for distribution of information about their services and holiday products. The study established that tour operators faced several challenges in their attempts to integrate ICTs in their operations. Respondents indicated that tour operators were the poorest users of information communication technologies in the tourism industry in the country. On the whole, it was concluded that the country‟s tour operators were yet to embrace ICTs as part of their business strategy. The study developed a bimodal distribution model to be used by the tour operators to distribute their products and services. The recommendations provided in the study include; improvement of macroeconomic environment, policy coordination, rolling out ICT education programmes for tour operators and lobbying for return of major airlines into Zimbabwe. It was therefore recommended that the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry takes the lead in implementing programmes that will incentivize tour operators to adopt ICTs in their operations. The study recommended that the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry lobbies government to creation an overall conducive business environment that would assist tour operating enterprises to flourish. The ministry further needs to engage the different ministries whose activities affect the tourism industry with a view of streamlining policy frameworks. The study also recommended that the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry hold discussions with tourism stakeholders with a view of coming up with strategies to mainstream tourism in the national ICT policy. It was also recommended that the line ministry roles out an ICT training programme for middle managers in tour operation enterprises. The study further recommended that the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry works closely with the Ministries of Transport and Infrastructure Development and Foreign Affairs, to lobby for the return of international airlines to the country. Finally the study recommended that the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism organizes a series of market research short courses to bridge the knowledge gap within the tour operators‟ middle and senior management staff.
Additional Citation InformationNyaruwata, S. (2016). Leveraging tourism and hospitality business performance through information communication technology : A case study of tour operators in Harare and Victoria Falls (Unpublished Doctorial thesis). University of Zimbabwe.
SubjectEconomic development, Zimbabwe
Tour operator business model
Bimodal distribution model
Zimbabwe Council for Tourism