eTourism - the future?

The internet and developments in Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) have revolutionised the entire business world, generating new business models, changing the structure of the distribution channels and re-engineering all processes.In some cases it has even enabled societies to evolve and provided unprecedented opportunities for young professionals to collaborate with the entire world and expand their activities globally. This is particularly the case in India, which is now recognised as one of the main sources of IT expertise in the world.
Tourism suppliers, destinations and stakeholders have all been influenced dramatically. So what does this mean for you? Dr Dimitrios Buhalis course leader of the first MSc in eTourism in the world explains: eTourism is growing rapidly, the eMarketer report (2000) suggests that the online travel industry is likely to be worth US$ 12.4 billion this year, and is predicted to reach an estimated value of US$ 25.2 billion by 2003. Forrester predicts that US online purchasing of leisure travel will skyrocket to $30.4 billion in 2004. Given that the online travel industry is information intensive, people can easily conduct research on fares, timetables, tour offers, hotel availability and destination holidays over the Web. These trends generate enormous demand for graduates with combined tourism and eCommerce skills. Technology and Tourism are two of the fastest growing sectors in the global economy, skills in the combination of the two will make you a very desirable employee. There is great evidence of demand for this specific knowledge and expertise in international business.
It is against this backdrop of change, that the University of Surrey has decided to launch the first MSc in eTourism in the world. The University of Surrey has a consistent history of 35 years of innovation in tourism and hospitality research and teaching. This new course will move the entire provision at Surrey into the digital era. The course focuses on the ways that tourism, travel and hospitality organisations can use the latest information communication technologies to achieve competitive advantages in the new digital global world of eTourism. Specialised modules include ePlanning, eManagement, eMarketing, eCommerce and eProcurement. A healthy diet of more traditional tourism and hospitality modules are also included as options in the modular system operated at the University.
The MSc in eTourism covers 3 main areas Business-Management-Marketing; Tourism-Travel-Hospitality; and Information Communication Technologies. The employability of its graduates is enhanced by the increasing demand in industry for specialised graduates who have knowledge and experience in these 3 areas.
Students will be able to explore the ways in which they can transform traditional tourism enterprises, develop and manage new electronic and dot com businesses and take advantage of the emerging technological tools. Students do not need a technological background to get onto this course, the course would like a mix of people including those who have web design skills that want to learn about the tourism industry and also those with a tourism background who want to learn about the technical aspects of the world of eTourism. So far interest in the course has been high and there are only 15 places available in the first year.
The strong support for the new course among both the tourism and the IT industry was evidenced by high attendance numbers at the hugely successful seminar that helped to launch the course. Entitled “eTourism: trends - challenges-solutions” the seminar was run by The School of Management Studies for the Service Sector at the University of Surrey and the Tourism Society. Chaired by Professor David Airey (Head of School) and Dr Dimitrios Buhalis, the programme included presentations by seven key industry speakers who captivated their audience with the latest issues in the fields of eTourism, eTravel, eHospitality, eDesinations, eMediaries, eRevolution, and eFutures.
The course has attracted strong support from a wide range of enterprises with leadership in this area, such as BTA, ThomasCook, British Airways WorldRes, SolMelia Hotels, Micros-Fidelio, etc. In addittion several national and international organisations such as The World Tourism Organization, the World Travel and Tourism Council, the European Commission, the British Tourism Authority, the Association of British Travel Agencies, The Tourism Society, the Chartered Institute of Marketing Travel Industry Group the Association of Independent Tour Operators, and the International Federation of Information Technology and Tourism. All of these organisations have indicated that the programme will provide desirable specialised skills and will enhance the knowledge of future tourism professionals as well as their desire to collaborate for the success of the programme.
So is eTourism the future? We think so and so do our partners in industry.