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The future of tourism is digital and it’s human!

Author: Krzysztof Lechowski, Key Research & Comms Expert
Editor in Chief: Vassilia Orfanou, CMO of Gaia-X

The future of our economy is driven by the digital economy, a new way to build value on top of the existing ecosystem. It is tied to data infrastructure, sharing information, and optimising the quality of services by extracting insightful data.

The last two years were marked by the COVID pandemic, which harshly impacted every aspect of our life, personal and professional. Thus, we need appropriate tools to perform on the job and to build a new digital market based on transparency, controllability, portability, and interoperability.

The tourism sector, like a lens, portrays the versatility of databases when being used in the right way to serve the people. Every sector of our economy is impacted by tourism, which has emerged as the third-largest export sector. Consequently, we can observe the data ecosystem’s impact across various branches of our economy.

Recently, Gaia-X held a tourism-focused data space event, on 9 June. This was an important occasion to observe that the sector represents a diversity of business areas. When we speak of tourism, we think about hotels or public institutions, private companies, and grassroots initiatives that work to promote a country or region as a tourist destination. But we frequently overlook the fact that, behind the big companies and local businesses that strive for higher profits, there are people who, with the suited data management and usage, may enhance not only the market but also bring a little more justice to society.

The tourism sector exemplifies the potential of a federated data ecosystem with accessible, well-managed data. In pre-pandemic Europe, 10% of the GDP was generated by the tourism industry, which accounted for 5,1% of all labour forceThe tourism industry is strongly related to other industries, and when other economic sectors are taken into consideration, the numbers significantly rise. 10.3% of GDP and 11.7% of all employment, which gives us 27.3 million people. Now, given that small and medium-sized businesses make up the bulk of the European tourist industry (SMEs). We have a thriving segment of the market; a truly entrepreneurial sector of the European economy, that significantly impacts the labour market and the economy.

However, Natalia Bayona, Director of Innovation, Education, and Investments at the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), during the Gaia-X Tourism Data Space Event, pointed out that: “tourism is the top employer of women and youth. Nonetheless, 50% of young, talented minds working in tourism only have secondary skills. If we want to develop a high-level economic sector, we need to improve education”. If we want to scale up the market and provide opportunities for professional growth for women and youth that work in the tourism sector, we must engage data.

A clear example of the citizen-centric, data-driven economy provides insights into the distribution of assets and the quality of education concerning given resources. Data-driven relocation of resources might improve the quality of education in areas, where education needs to be improved. And ensure that women and young people have a better future in the job market.

Furthermore, locally-focused data can improve the relevance of education. Industry data when in conjunction with data taken from, e.g., vocational schools, can ameliorate the learning process of pupils and link relevant industries with schools, thus providing skilled professionals for the market. This illustrates Mrs Bayona’s argument. Data can only be completely utilised when it is compared to data from different industries, which is currently not feasible owing to the system in place.

To improve the education system in tourism and hospitality, and therefore the tourism sector in general, some immediate actions must be taken. As of currently, it should be considered that a citizen-centric data ecosystem faces some major challenges.

We are unable to transmit information in a well-structured manner due to data aggregation, which results in fragmented and inoperable data. As a result, we are unable to gather information from many ecosystems to develop policies that are suitable and tailored to the requirements of the people.

Given the size of the tourist sector, we can observe parallel issues in other industries including accommodation, travel, dining, and car leasing. The European Commission’s Yvo Volman, Director for Data at DG CNECT, made this observation during the Gaia-X Tourism Data Space Event.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the COVID-19 ecosystem’s primary concerns, as we could witness in the cases of the education and tourist sector. However, the main takeaway is that Gaia-X and like-minded people and companies have solutions to existing problems, which would place citizens at a focal point of the future of data.

Do you want to know more about how the tourism data space ecosystem will develop in the near future? On our YouTube channel, you may watch the whole event, view the schedule, and equally take a look to the  PowerPoint presentations of our guest speakers. The final report of the event may be seen in the following link.