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The dynamic business environment: factors influencing demand for tourism

The cumulative impact of thousands of hours of television-watching,
even before the full impact of new access to specialist channels and the
Internet, has already had a major influence on travel demand. It
influences strongly the social attitudes noted earlier in the article.
Television is, of course, also a main medium for advertising many
products in travel and tourism, and no previous generations ever had
such massive, continuous exposure to events, people, places and
influences outside their normal places of residence and work.
Not least of the influences exerted by the mass communication media
is the effect achieved by regular television travel programmes, which
review and expose a wide range of tourism products on offer and provide
critical evaluations of their quality and value for money. Such programmes
achieve a level of authority and exposure that no individual
organization’s advertising budget could match. For individual products
covered, the programmes have the power to reduce demand for the
businesses or destinations that are criticized, or create demand for those
that are approved.
At a lower level in terms of overall impact, the exposure of prospective
travellers to books, films, newspapers, specialist magazines and radio,
also contributes to awareness and attitudes. But the other media cannot
reproduce the sense of colour and action conveyed by television, or
command the same hours of attention. For specialist activities, digital
versatile disc (DVD) and the Internet are already serious rivals for
television although the media are likely to be combined as noted
above.
The ability of television to expose and draw attention to the things that
go wrong for tourists is also part of the effect on demand. It includes, for
example, the global coverage given to deaths in airline crashes, the stories
of murder, rape and muggings of tourists, and the disasters to ferries that
capture the imagination of people around the world. Where the majority
of a population participates regularly in travel and tourism, the industry
is of great interest to the media and is certain to generate stories the public
wish to see and read. The full effect on demand of growing media
coverage is still not well understood but there can be no doubt of its
importance.

Information and communications technology
Developed later and Part Four, this section simply flags up
ten of the growing influences over tourism demand exerted by the global
revolution in information and communications technology that is still in
the relatively early stages of its development. Almost half of all
households in the USA and several countries in Europe have Internet
access at the turn of the century and within a decade access will be
available to virtually all with high propensities to engage in travel and
tourism. Based on the ever-growing power and reducing cost of
microprocessors, the influences over tourism demand include:
- Increasing promotion and distribution of products on the World Wide
Web by both private sector businesses and destination marketing
organizations, including online sales and the use of the Internet for
vital last minute sales.
- Multimedia information provision in customers’ homes enhancing
promotional possibilities.


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