The role of information and communications technology in supporting sustainable tourism: in-trip tourists perspectives
Scott, M. (2013) The role of information and communications technology in supporting sustainable tourism: in-trip tourists perspectives, no. 281.
The aim of this research was to examine the factors influencing in-trip tourists' adoption of information and communications technology (ICT) tools/applications which support sustainable tourism. While ICT is a source of competitive advantage for businesses, there is limited research on how ICT can be used to support sustainable tourism development. At the same time, there has been greater consumer awareness about sustainable tourism but a challenge in translating this knowledge into action. This thesis therefore sought to explore and integrate these complementary elements. The study adopted a sequential mixed methods approach. Phase 1 employed an e-survey among sixty-six (66) eTourism experts, while Phase 2 of the study involved thirty (30) semi-structured face-to-face interviews with leisure tourists in the city of Edinburgh. Descriptive statistics and content analysis were used to analyse Phase 1 and thematic analysis for Phase 2. The findings from the survey demonstrated that location based services were identified amongst the main ICT applications to support sustainable tourism. Geo-caching, ambient intelligence and context aware applications were among the new or emerging applications that eTourism experts felt were likely to change the way tourists experience a destination in the future. The interviews demonstrated that social connectedness motivated the use of in-trip ICT with social media being the primary platform. Mobile value elements, personal innovativeness and perceived enjoyment were postulated as influencing use behaviour. The results also illustrated the need for destinations to mix new media with some traditional strategies based on the destination's info-structure, tourists' source markets, tourists' profiles and sources of in-trip information. This thesis has made an original contribution to knowledge by examining the actual use of in-trip ICTs by tourists in relation to sustainable tourism. Future research needs to explore and measure how perceived enjoyment, personal innovativeness and mobile value elements influence technology use behaviour.