Tim Van Severen

European Tourism Forum: Digitalisation is key

This year’s European Tourism Forum, an annual event co-organised by the European Commission and the Member State which holds the EU Presidency during the second half of the year – in this case Finland, focussed on “Digital Transformation as the Engine of Sustainable Growth for the EU Tourism Sector”. As both digitalisation and sustainability are key elements of our strategy, TUI was glad to be invited to join and participate in the event.

The event included the award ceremony for the European Capitals of Smart Tourism, a new EU initiative that places the spotlight for a year on European cities that show an out-standing performance on sustainability, digitalisation, accessibility and cultural heritage & creativity. One of the underlying ideas is that cities that are attractive for tourists, also serve their residents better. This is indeed a fitting illustration of the cross-cutting nature of tourism, and how it can benefit local communities. After Helsinki and Lyon had been awarded the first awards in 2019, this time Gothenburg and Málaga, a major destination for TUI, were selected as the overall winners and can call themselves “European Capital of Smart Tourism” for 2020. Congratulations! 

TUI supports tourism SMEs

The European Tourism Forum also produced interesting exchanges and insights during the panel discussions on digitalisation in tourism. One of the viewpoints expressed was that Europe should do more to compete at the global stage with respect to the development of new technologies. It is indeed striking that while platforms increasingly generate economic growth, only 4% of the top 50 platforms are based in Europe. It should be recognised that the platform economy also comes with its challenges. A point stressed in this frame was that the many SMEs in the tourism sector do not have the same means to invest in digitalisation as larger companies, and that there could be a role for the EU and national governments to create tools for smaller companies to tap into new technologies. TUI’s recent integration of the Musement platform certainly plays a positive role here, in providing local tours and activities around the globe with digital connectivity to TUI’s customer base and beyond, including features such as a real time travel guide matching platform. 

Big data to enhance holiday experiences

Our colleague Peik Martin, Director Sales & Digital at TUI in the Nordics, contributed to the panel “Data Management: A Strategic Instrument of the Digital Transformation and Sustainability of Tourism” and was facilitated by TUI Group’s Corporate Office EU and colleagues from TUI Nordics. Peik’s presentation focused on how data is used to enhance the customer holiday experience, and can also contribute to more sustainable holidays. An important point stressed by Peik during the panel discussion is that data from tourism statistics could be better used to address common challenges in EU tourism. 

The full programme, presentations and photos from the event can be found on the Finnish EU Presidency website for the European Tourism Forum.

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