The Make-Over of the Travel Agent: Responding to the New Information Technology Environment
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The travel and tourism industry is contributing to economic growth all around the world: globally the industry is recognised as having enormous potential. Relying as it does on the flow of information, travel and tourism is fundamentally affected by changes in information technology (IT). Recent IT developments like the Internet and World Wide Web directly impact on the industry. The nature and size of the impact remains unclear, since at the one extreme there is the establishment of virtual travel offices and at the other extreme there are travel agents who show little interest in embracing IT. This paper examines some factors impacting on developments in the travel agency business environment. The first section explores the traditional role of travel agents, followed by a brief overview of the changes in their environment in the last decade. The travel agency's link to IT and, more precisely, the Internet and its impact is considered next; the impact of changes on the role of customers, training and various ways of coping by travel agencies are also briefly considered. The paper concludes with some comments on the means whereby travel agents can redefine their role and ensure the survival of their business.
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