"For planning a vacation there's nothing better than the Internet, the information highway," says Alastair Morrison, Purdue University professor of restaurant, hotel, institutional and tourism management.
"The Internet can be more up-to-date than any brochure, and you can virtually visit many destinations just by surfing their Web sites."
Morrison, director of the Purdue Tourism and Hospitality Research Center, advises the tourism industry on just what to put on those Web sites.
He says the best sites have links to as many possible services as a potential traveler could want. "A theme park may have links to other parks around the world. A sporting event could be linked to sports schedules, souvenir shops and players' home pages," he says.
Among the travel services on the Internet are currency converters, weather forecasts, customs information, lists of restaurants and accommodations and ticket-ordering sites. "There are even sites that will send postcards to your friends," Morrison says.
He says if all you need is a plane ticket, the Internet has some of the cheapest fares to be found. "You can deal directly with the airlines or book flights with 'consolidators,' which are electronic travel agencies that buy bulk airfares and sell them over the Internet," he says.
When it comes to mapping out the itinerary, Morrison says the Internet can do that, too. Map sites such as Mapquest or AutoPilot can plot out the journey with ease.
However, as with anything, let the buyer beware. "Ask for references. Check with the Better Business Bureau. And look to see if the agent is sanctioned either by the International Air Transport Association or the American Society of Travel Agents," Morrison advises.
Among Internet travel sites are:
Source: Alastair Morrison, (765) 494-7905; e-mail, email@example.com;
Web page, http://omni.cc.purdue.edu/~alltson/Alastair.html
Writer: Beth Forbes, (765) 494-9723; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail, email@example.com
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