Information and communications technology (ICT) are widely used by enterprises to enhance their competitiveness. Travel agents (TAs) are among service providers for whom their integration of ICT and Internet technological capabilities could be the best marketing device and a potential promoter for enhancing their competitive positioning in the tourism sector. The study contextualizes ICT usage patterns in an underexplored context, the Middle East countries. This study provides an overview of the current state of affairs of the ICT adoption in small- and medium-size TAs in Dubai in United Arab Emirates. It investigates the usage patterns of the Internet by Dubai TAs, reasons for using the Internet features of agents’ website content, and perceived significant benefits of e-commerce and barriers to adoption. It is found that the majority of TAs use the Internet for several reasons, ranging from customizing services, attracting customers, communicating with customers, gaining access to international markets, providing TAs with information and finding out about suppliers and competitors. The significant perceived benefits identified in this study are establishing a reputation in the global markets, increasing sales, revenues and profits, improving distribution channels, increasing competitive advantage and customizing services to customer needs. On the other hand, it was found that the principal barriers hindering e-commerce adoption are limited resources versus the high cost of e-commerce adoption, online security concerns, lack of skilled information technology labour, a lack of customer readiness, and a lack of advice and support. The study identified the need for more training facilities for adopting e-commerce in TAs and the need for the government to provide incentives, professional advice, and guidance regarding appropriate e-commerce products and services at an affordable cost for TAs operating in the emirate.
Qatar University, Doha, Qatar