Tourism, technology and ICT: a critical review of affordances and concessions
The digital information age has changed global tourism in profound ways. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are pervasive, and they have become inextricably linked with contemporary consumer cultures. ICTs represent affordances: to apprise, plan, order, network, socialize, stream, transact and rate. These are remunerated with concessions in the form of consumer data that is used to determine product/service marketability, and to predict and manipulate consumer choices. As a result, ICTs have profoundly changed society, with repercussions for identity formation, social norms, and business structures. Tourism is at the forefront of these developments: as a driver of ICT introductions, an arena for testing & trialing, and a global market. This paper critically examines these developments and its linkages to tourism and sustainability goals, concluding that existing academic assessments are optimistic, simplistic and monocausal, with a focus on business and marketing opportunities. Tourism appears to have developed through four stages of ICT adoption - opportunity, disruption, immersion and usurpation -, which reflect on new opportunities and risks, and the need for more critical evaluations of the implications of the ICT economy.