This paper was aimed at investigating the role of internet marketing on the growth of tourism in Nigeria. This is because internet marketing is a channel of creating and promoting awareness in tourism. The broad objective of this study was to find out the importance or role of internet marketing strategies in creating awareness of tourism products and the extent of internet marketing knowledge and application by both the employers and employees. The study researcher used primary and secondary methods to generate the research data. Chi-square test statistics was employed to test the hypothesis. Among the findings were that internet marketing is one of the fastest methods of creating awareness and reaching tourism prospects around the world. This will in turn promote the generation of revenue for government and income for the individuals including huge profit volume. Again, it was discovered that internet marketing gives an organization competitive edge over other competitors, also an enhanced communication between customers and the organization. The researcher came up with the following recommendation, that tourism organizations should establish quality internet facilities and train all their employees to be internet compliance. Also, private investors should invest in internet facilities to train members of the public who are potential customers to the industry.
Background of the study
The invention of internet since 1960 though an experiment by united states of America’s department of defense to help scientists and widely dispersed areas work together by sharing scarce and expensive computers and their files. (Ogbuoshi 2003: 110)
Thus the use of internet services spread across all spheres of human endeavors especially in business and particularly marketing. Thus, the growth of internet in marketing is a welcome development, because it has transformed marketing tourism and business since the introduction of the first website (http://info.cern.ch) went live in 1991 with over one billion people around the world regularly using the web to find products consumers soul mates tourist centre’s, consumer behavior and the methods companies market to both current and potential customers has dramatically changed.
Internet marketing concentrates on providing valuable information and services as part of efforts to sell goods and services. By creating information services, organizations can easily and successfully market their products. It equally offers potential consumers or customers the opportunity to interact with various, information to ask questions, to leave messages and even to place orders for products directly (Schiffman & Kanuk 2007:12)
Internet marketing provides environment for efficient interactive marketing communication with large groups of potential customers, the use of world wide web (www) allows the customers or the tourist users to view advertising read technical geographic and tourism literature and tourist centre’s. Internet marketing offers an information depth on destinations or attraction centre’s at a cheap cost with universal reach. Hence it adds value in marketing approach in tourism marketing in particular.
Ogbuoshi (2003:110) many countries in developed worlds are using their internet site to market their products to customers, take customers orders and handle order tracking. This is promoting fast growth of marketing. Result indicates huge cost saving in the rate of 60 to 70 percent instaneous response and its available all days round the year.
In this direction, internet marketing play a vital role in the consumption of tourism products and as a strategy used to support tourist in gaining knowledge, developing interest and awareness creation of tourism potentials outside and within Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The largest growth rate of internet is in the business sector especially in marketing. Internet marketing serves many of the needs in marketing promotion, effective interaction, two-way communication, gaining market share globally among others. New products are easily introduced in the net and this has promoted the growth of such products globally.
But the extent of internet marketing strategies application in Nigerian tourism industry is still not recommendable. Many tourism companies and workers lack the knowledge of internet marketing and this dominantly made destinations or attraction sites both the natural and artificial sites in Nigeria still unknown to the outside world.
Thus the problem of awareness creation of tourism products in Nigeria to the outside world cannot be over emphasized.
A product that is not promoted cannot be known and purchase for consumption. Thus the essence of this research is to examine the extent of knowledge of intent and its application in tourism industry.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The broad objective of this study is to find out the importance or role of internet marketing strategies in creating awareness of tourism products and the extent of internet marketing knowledge in both the employers and employee.
The specific objectives includes
i. To find out the extent of tourism products awareness creation through the internet.
ii. To compare internet marketing strategies with traditional marketing strategies and the fast growth of tourism industry.
iii. To investigate the extent of internet marketing knowledge among tourism operators and employees.
iv. To make useful recommendation based on the findings of the study.
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
The following hypotheses were postulated by the researcher to validate the authenticity of the research.
Ho1: There is no significant relationship between internet marketing and global awareness creation of tourism product in Nigeria.
Ho2: Lack of internet knowledge by tourism operators has no significant influence on the use of internet marketing strategies in tourism companies.
Ho3: Internet marketing strategies have no wider reach and quick responses than traditional marketing strategies.
Ho4: Internet marketing strategies has no relationship with cost savings and fast sales of the tourism products.
5.1 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Most businesses especially tourism business have not done much in the practice and application of internet marketing that is promoting and enhancing faster growth rate of business around the world. Again most work has not been done in internet marketing especially in the tourism industry.
Hence, this study will be very useful to private tourism organizations, tourism ministries of different levels of government in Nigeria, the academia, foreign tourists and the general public. This will in a way enhance tourism growth and will generate income in the economy and improve the standard of living of the people.
5.2 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study covers the role of internet marketing, internet marketing strategies, and its importance to tourism as well as its advantages and disadvantages including associated problems. Thus, the study will be on the relationship of internet marketing to promote growth of tourism industry.
5.3 DEFINITION OF TERMS
1. Internet marketing – can simply be defined as achieving marketing objectives through applying digital technologies. (Chaffey, 2009: 9).
2. Marketing – is the process by which companies create value for customers and build strong customer relationship in order to capture value from customers in return. (Kotler, 2007: 5).
3. Internet – the physical network that links computers across the globe. It consists of the infrastructure of network servers and communication links between them that are used to hold and transport to vast amount of information on the internet. (Chaffey, 2009: 679).
4. Growth – is an increase in the size, amount or degree of something. (Oxford Advanced learners Dictionary, 7 editions 2006: 660).
5. Digital technologies – include internet media such as a website and e-mail as well as other digital media such as wireless or mobile and media for delivering digital television such as cable and satellite. (Chaffey, 2009: 9).
6. Tourism – a stay of one or more night away from home for holidays, visits to friends or relatives or business conferences or any other purpose except such things as boarding education or semi-permanent employment. (Kotler, Makens, and Boowen 2010: 669 Bode – Thomas 2000: 73).
7. Tourist – as defined by United Nations in 1945 is that a tourist is a person who stayed in a foreign country for more than 24 hours and less than six months for any non-immigrant purpose. (Bhatia, 2006: 86).
8. Destination – the place at which a traveler terminates his journey. The ultimate stopping place according to contract of coverage. (Bhatia 2006: 362).
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