This page provides a summary of the findings of the survey carried out by the National Computer Board in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, on the use of information technology in the tourism industry.On an overall, 97% of the firms which were contacted responded favourably to the survey and this high response rate convey a fairly realistic picture of the penetration of IT in the tourism sector.
© National Computer Board - 1993
IT Growth Scenario : There is statistical evidence of an increasing penetration of IT in the tourism sector over the past five years. In hotels, the average growth of IT usage has steadily increased from 12.8% in 1987 to 69.2% in 1992. A similar growth scenario is observed with the travel agents and tour operators, whereby the increase is from 15% in 1987 to 88% in 1992. None of the car hire agencies are presently making use of IT, though many of them intend to do so in the near future.
Spread of Computers:
- The study showed that almost all of the large and medium size hotels make use of computers as compared to only about one third of the small hotels. The average spread of computers is as follows :
- 12.8% of them use only 1 micro computer,
- 20.5% use 2 to 5 micros,
- 7.7% use 6 to 10 micros,
- 15.4% use between 10 to 32 micros,
- 5.1% use a combination of mini and micro computers and
- 7.7% use Macintosh computers.
- What was also noted was the fact that none of the medium and small hotels make use of the combination of mini and micro computers or of Macintosh.
- As for travel agents and tour operators, the average spread of computers is as follows :
- 50% of them use only 1 micro computer,
- 19% use 2 to 5 micros and
- a further 19% use a combination of mini and micro computers.
Use of networks : About 29.4% of the Mauritian hotels comprising mostly of the large hotels make use of local area networks (LAN), primarily for intra-organizational communication and sharing of resources. 81.5% of the all travel agents and tour operators make use of networks, 77.8% of which use the Amadeus Reservation System, 18.5% use Alpha III, 7.4% use the Novell Netware. Statistical data obtained form Air Mauritius show that there are 34 travel agents and tour operators which are presently making extensive use of the Amadeus Reservation System.
IT applications : IT is still predominantly used by approximately 60% of the hotels in standard data processing and in administrative task automation. The only outstanding use of IT lies in the utilisation of the Amadeus Reservation systems by a large majority (about 77%) of travel agents and tour operators. The opportunities which IT can offer to the Mauritian tourism sector with the development of strategic projects such as marketing information system (MIS), destination information system (DRS), destination reservation system (DRS) and hotel automation systems has not yet been exploited.
IT benefits : It is rather unfortunate that no attempt has been made by any of the hotels or travel agents and tour operators to quantify the business value of using IT. This explains the difficulty in assessing the financial benefits derived from uses of IT. However, data gathered from the survey show that in hotels, in general, IT has tremendously facilitated the handling of routine tasks in areas of financial services, room reservation services and billing services. As for the travel agents and tour operators, benefits from IT have been reaped mostly in the handling of ticket reservations.
Investment in IT : This study has identified four factors which altogether comprise the motives for computerisation by most of the surveyed companies : (a) Improving efficiency in general, (b) Improving quality of services offered to customers, (c) Business expansion and (d) Maintaining a good image by modernizing and making use of new technology. IT is not yet perceived as a strategic tool which can reduce overheads, win new markets and increase financial gains.
Constraints for computerizing : The following two major constraints were reported by about 55% of the hotels and 72% of the travel agents and tour operators : (a) Lack of information and technical know-how and (b) Lack of skilled personnel. 60% of the medium and small hotels respectively and 53% of the travel agents and tour operators considered the lack of funds as a severe financial constraint.
Technical support :
- According to over 50% of the hotels and 38% of the travel agents and tour operators, some technical help to conduct a feasibility study would have been beneficial in their computerisation process.
- About 60% of the medium-sized and small hotels respectively and 50% of the travel agents and tour operators forwarded that they would have liked to be advised on their choice of hardware and software before making any purchases.
- About 60% of the medium-size hotels and 50% of the small ones admitted that they needed help and support during the implementation phase of the computerization process.
- It was generally agreed by most of the surveyed companies that the above-mentioned types of support would be beneficial in saving time and money.
Communications and Information Technology : The Mauritian tourism sector still relies to a large extent on existing communication services such as the telephone, fax and telex. Nevertheless, there have been numerous claims on the poor performance of these services, due to unreliable and inadequate telephone lines. Electronic mail (Email) and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) technologies are inexistent in the Mauritian Tourism sector. The survey further gives evidence of the fact that there is a very low demand for these communication services:
- only 6% of the large hotels, 6% of small hotels and 23% of the travel agents and tour operators have shown interest in using Email in the future, and
- 41% of large hotels, 80% of medium-sized hotels, 23% of small ones and 35% of travel agents and tour operators are interested in EDI systems.
- However, lack of existing telecommunications infrastructure will be a definite obstacle for exploiting EDI technologies.
IT Human Resource : This survey provides evidence of a very low number of qualified IT personnel employed in the tourism sector. On an average, about 10% of the workforce employed by the hotels and the travel agents and tour operators are currently using computers on a regular basis. About half of them have been provided with in-house training. Only a negligible percentage (about 0.2%) of the recruited workforce were preliminary trained in IT.
- What was rather concerning was that the extremely low percentage of degree holders and diploma holders recruited in the tourism industry :
- Only 0.5% of the total workforce from all the different categories of hotels and 0.3% of the total employed staff from the travel agents and tour operators have a degree in a computer-related field. The percentage of diploma holders is respectively 1.2% for the hotels and 1.8% for the latter. The percentage of certificate holders, though, was slightly higher : 13.7% for hotels and 8.6% for the travel agents and tour operators.
- This very low percentage of qualified and skilled IT personnel partly accounts for the poor and elementary utilisation of IT in the tourism sector.
Worlwide trends & Recommendations for the future : The analysis in the trends of global tourism provides evidence of an estimated rise of 3% to 4% per annum in tourist expenditures in real terms and an estimated rise in capital investment from above US$ 420 billion in 1993 to US$ 1.3 trillion by the year 2005. All this together with the ever-growing fierce competition in the world tourism industry will ultimately compell Mauritius to modernize and strengthen its marketing and promotional activities.
- In the light of all these changes, five strategic projects have been proposed :
- Development of a Market Information System (MIS)
- Development of a Destination Information System (DIS)
- Development of a Destination Reservation system (DRS)
- Spreading the use of Computerised Reservation System (CRS) in hotels
- Development of Hotel Automation System