Journal Article | 2003
Developing countries and the tourist industry in the internet age: The case of Namibia
in Forum for Development Studies vol. 30 no. 1 pp. 59-87
UNCTAD claims that the development of tourism may be one of the most valuable avenues for reducing the marginalisation of least developed countries (LDCs) in the global economy and that the use of internet technology and e-commerce represents a further opportunity for developing countries to improve their economic position relative to the developed world. Through a case study of the Namibian tourist industry, this article analyses to what extent the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in the tourist industry facilitates growth in tourism services in developing countries. The article seeks to outline the conditions under which the local industry might bypass intermediaries such as overseas travel agents and tour operators, thereby reducing transaction costs (commissions for instance) and securing Namibia a higher market share and a higher added value. Intermediaries play two important roles. They possess wide-ranging information that operators may lack and may therefore offer the consumer a bundle (package) of different goods. Secondly, they act as certifiers (guarantors) of the quality of goods and services. I argue that unless Namibian operators can fulfil these two functions it is unlikely that they will be able to bypass intermediaries without reducing the value of the product.
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