Information System Supporting Heterogeneous Sources for Promoting Destination of Rural Areas

Information System Supporting Heterogeneous Sources for Promoting Destination of Rural Areas

Miroslava Raspopovic Milic (Belgrade Metropolitan University, Serbia), Milena Vukmirovic (Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture, University of Belgrade, Serbia) and Svetlana Cvetanovic (Belgrade Metropolitan University, Serbia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9932-6.ch007
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Tourism in rural areas is considered small-scale tourism, which represents a strong potential for growth of areas traditionally characterized as agricultural areas. Rural tourism tends to be heterogeneous with many different and scattered stakeholders, making the efficiency and effectivity hard to achieve. Many ICT technologies have found their way into smart tourism. Even though there are plentiful user generated data and smart tourism applications, they represent a very heterogeneous sources that are challenging to integrate in one scalable system. The aim of this research is to propose a model for information system that will increase efficiency of the rural small-scale tourism by using both internal and external systems, such as social networks, local services, geotagged resources, sentiment analysis, and data- and text-based mining systems. The goal of this information system is to gather a rich database that will allow users to identify their next destination and to identify most valuable assets for each location in the region.
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Information and communications technology (ICT) tools and applications have allowed increase of the performance and effectiveness in tourism. ICT has influenced ways tourism services are accessed and consumed. Tourists typically use their ICT devices to search for information to help them form decisions in regard with their trip (Buhalis & Amaranggana, 2015). This is one of the reasons why technology and its applications have had instrumental role in tourism marketing and many businesses had to redefine their marketing model. Usage of new technologies provided benefits not only as the increase in the supply of information, but it also provided a channel for the information sharing to larger audience, while reducing the cost of production.

While there are various benefits to using different technologies and application, there are also drawbacks of their usage. The abundance of information on the Web poses a challenge when trying to filter useful information on various destinations. This is especially true for tourism industry where information is distributed over various websites and stored using heterogeneous formats (Haller, Pröll, Retschitzegger, Tjoa, & Wagner, 2000).

Destination image formation no longer relies on brick-and-mortar travel agencies and glossy travel brochures, but rather on the user created content, usually based on various shared experiences, advices, comments and photographs (Hunter, Chung, Gretzel, & Koo, 2015). Currently, on TripAdvisor there are 465 million reviews and opinions and 390 million monthly average unique visitors (TripAdvisor, 2017). Furthermore, usage of mobile devices has changed tourist services and offerings. Mobile technologies offer information to tourists not only while planning a trip, but also at the destination. GoodWorkLabs reports that 85% use smartphones to plan their travel when on leisure tours, 72% people will post photos about their travel on social platforms like Facebook, 30% use mobile apps to find the best hotel deals, 29% use mobile apps to find the best flight deals, 55.8% tourists use mobile apps to check weather, 49.1% tourists use mobile apps to use mapping features, 62.1% tourists use mobile apps to search for nearby restaurants, 48.1% tourists use mobile GPS to get travel directions, 46% tourists use apps to find hotels (GoodWorkLabs, 2015).

While the industrial tourism is popular and ICT usage in its promotion is visible, rural tourism is largely individual oriented and may or may not have a mass appeal (Shanker, 2008). Many of the assets in rural tourism are not very well known. Using ICT tools and applications, these assets can be brought into mainstream tourism. In order for this to happen, it is essential to create a model for a user-friendly platform to promote local regions. Tourist services in rural areas are typically not well established. Moreover, they need to be continuously innovated and diversified so that tourist can maintain their interest in the region and to increase in the influx of tourist visits to rural areas. Rural areas typically hold their income based on the agricultural activities. Hence, developing and diversifying rural tourism can counteract the income from the agricultural sources, as tourists bring income and purchasing power to rural areas.

Rural area tourism provides perspective and new economic possibilities to the younger generations. Keeping younger generations in rural areas can preserve villages and strengthen the communities by not only strengthening them economically but by preserving local culture and heritage. Tourism areas may offer a dynamic environment for young generations given good social and job opportunities and a generally smooth entry into the labor market (Möller, 2015).

The main objective of introducing a novel information system (IS) within rural areas is to establish the practice that will generate positive impact on tourism and contribute to competitiveness in promotion of regional assets. The idea behind information rich information system is to promote not only very well know regional assets, but also a less known “hidden jewels” of the region and some less known activities and accommodations that are hard to find on the web. Information rich IS utilizes different technologies, while gathering different format of digital media that represent the region through digitalization of its assets. Digitalization of assets allows one to present valuable information about the region, which is not easily accessible on a daily basis.

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