E-Tourism: A Survey of E-Business Among South African Tour Operators

Verhoest, Pascal
James, Tina
Marais, Mario
Van Audenhove, Leo
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LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg
This contribution presents the results of a pilot project on ICT usage by South African SMMEs in the tourism industry. The Electronic Business Survey (EBS) methodology which was tested for applicability in a developing country, in this case South Africa, uses qualitative indicators and quantitative estimations to measure the impacts of e-business practices. The results, based on 40 face-to-face interviews, were substantive and showed that the adapted OECD methodology could be used successfully. In the South African tourism industry, ICT significantly improves the performance of these businesses. Although ICT adoption represents a significant operational cost for the interviewed firms, it also substantially contributes to increased revenue and improved labour productivity. On balance the results are extremely positive: 44.7% of firms report increased profitability, whereas for 50% it remained the same as three years ago. Of the firms that reported increased profitability, 75% indicated ICT as a contributing factor, and 31% considered ICT as the main contributing factor. The most positive effects are attributed to the usage of the Internet to improve customer relations in conjunction with creative product offerings (customisation, product-service bundling). Findings are consistent with research applying the same methodology in Western and Eastern Europe. This includes the finding that positive effects of ICT tend to be bigger for industries in transition, supporting businesses to become internationally competitive.
Verhoest, P., James, T., Marais, M., & Van Audenhove, L. (2007). e-Tourism: A survey of e-business among South African tour operators. The Southern African Journal of Information and Communication (SAJIC), 8, 172-185. https://doi.org/10.23962/10539/19791