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The main purpose of this study is to address the tourists’ challenge of choosing the most suitable travel locations in Nigeria based on their personal interest and preferences. The study tackles the need to manage dynamic user requirements in tourism using technologies such as the semantic web and mobile computing such that a tourism system can evolve proactively with emerging user needs. It adopts an ontology based model for the recommender system. The Ontology is built using Ontology Web Language (OWL) and deployed on Java Server Pages. Attributes of the Ontology include Location, Scenery, Traffic situation, Security, Food, Linguistic characteristic among others. This will be linked to the various tourist attractions using “Is-A” and “Has-A” relationships. The scope of the study focused on Nigerian Tourism. The results show that the system is able to recommend tourist locations to users accurately and efficiently to suit their needs.
1.0 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
There are hundreds of tourist attractions located around Nigeria such that you do not need to break the bank to have vacation abroad. However, finding these tourist sites in a town where you are not resident and knowing which options best suit you is quite daunting. This leads to the rise in e-tourism. E-tourism is becoming more and more active as the years go by and more folks embrace it. E-tourism refers to the analysis, design, implementation and application of IT solutions in the travel and tourism industry (Ding, 2008). It can also be referred to as e-commerce in tourism and it is about establishing commercial relationships (mainly sales) using the Internet for tourism purposes (Condratov, 2013). Recommender systems (RS) are tools and pieces of software, which aims to provide suggested items to users (Burke, 2007). Recommender systems in the travel industry reduce the burden of information overload and domain complexity for users.
According to Kanellopoulos (2008), the term ‘ontology’ is derived from the Greek words ‘onto’, which means being, and ‘logia’, which means written or spoken discourse and can also be defined as an explicit specification of a conceptualisation (Gruber, 1993). Ontologies present two main advantages, namely: shareability and reusability. These properties make them very attractive and powerful for representing domain knowledge (Kanellopoulos, 2008). Consequently, the knowledge they contain can be used in different applications, for different purposes and by different people.
For travel and tourism, the two most successful recommender system technologies are Triplehop’s TripMatcher (used by www.ski-europe.com, among others) and VacationCoach’s expert advice platform, MePrint (used by travelocity.com) (Werthner and Klein, 1999). Neither system supports the user in building a “user defined” trip, consisting of one or more locations to visit, accommodations, and plans to visit additional attractions (a museum, the theatre, and so forth). Although travel planning is a complex decision process, these systems support only the first stage— deciding the destination (Ricci, 2002). In Nigeria, hotels.ng is one of the best travel/tourism sites but it only refines search based on user’s budget and location (narrowed down to Local Government Area) and it specifies amenities available too. One characteristic common to all of these implementations is the fact that the parameters used for destination recommendation are strictly two-dimensional, that is, the user’s travel preferences and the description catalogue of travel destinations (Daramola, et al., 2009).
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
As travelling for a holiday should be as relaxing and satisfactory as possible, there is need to help a user make the best choices. The “postmodern tourist” with differentiated life-styles (such as shorter trips and others), individual motives (business travellers, elderly persons, culture tourists, day-tourists) and specific interests (focus on special sports) demands products tailored accordingly to stated preferences (PRISMA, 2001). The major problem to be solved by this system is a tourist not knowing where to take a vacation or taking a vacation in a place that is not so conducive and enjoyable. The use of relevant contextual information that can improve the quality and dependability of recommendations was not considered (Adomavicius, et al., 2005). This might be due to poor information about the place or plain ignorance.
1.2 AIM AND OBJECTIVES
The aim of this study is to develop an ontology based e-tourism recommender system. The Objectives are:
1. To study the systems on ground and identify the shortcomings of those recommender systems
2. Obtain comprehensive data of tourist sites, information about them and pictures from all around Nigeria
3. Develop a Nigerian Tourism site Ontology
4. Develop a web based e-tourism recommender system
1.3 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The significance of this study is to help Nigerians and foreigners coming in to choose the right vacation spot based on personal preferences. The knowledge based method eliminates cold start, hence, does not put the user in a hard position of knowing where to begin from. It would also serve to provide very necessary and the most honest information about tourist locations; hence, the need to judiciously collect data for the site first hand. It also solves the problem of not knowing tourist sites around you; hence, it can also serve as a national tourism directory.
1.4 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study is restricted to only tourist sites within Nigeria. The study also studied links to the sites or portals of these tourist locations, where applicable, for reservations and payment. However, while working on the project, I was faced with some limitations and they include:
a. Getting accurate statistics about Nigerian e-tourism was a bit difficult.
b. Data sets of Tourist sites in Nigeria was not available to the public
c. Textbooks related to my research were not readily available in hard copy. This led to a bulk of my resources being obtained from the Internet.
d. There is no standard classification template for the tourism domain in Nigeria
The proposed Nigerian Tourism Ontology will be based on Ontology Web Language (OWL) and implemented in The Protégé Ontology Editor. OWL is a markup language for sharing and publishing data using ontologies on the Internet (Frikha, et al., 2015) An OWL Ontology uses an object-oriented way to describe the field of knowledge; it essentially consists of classes (which represents the concepts in a domain), a 139 class-hierarchy (concept taxonomy), properties (slots), property values, relations between classes (inheritance, disjoint, equivalent), restrictions on properties (type, cardinality), characteristics of properties (slots) (e.g. symmetric, transitive) and individuals (for knowledge-bases) (Daramola, et al., 2009).
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