THE private sector and NTOs must become better at using technology to connect with tourists, especially if they want a share of surging arrivals from key growth markets such as China.
Antonia Lopez de Avila Munoz, president and CEO of Spain's State Company for Tourism Technology and Innovation Management (SEGITTUR), said digital technology is not only a key mechanism for attracting tourists to a destination; it can also be used to improve a wide range of issues such as mobility, security, healthcare, and energy and resource management.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Global Tourism Economy Forum in Macau last week, he said technology will become increasingly important as the industry moves towards the World Tourism Council’s forecast of 1.8 billion international arrivals by 2030.
“(Spain is the) first in Europe to (have the most) protected areas and third in the world...even with 60 million tourist arrivals a year. That's partly because we're focusing on using technology to help manage everything from security to water usage.”
Given that four out of five people visiting Spain travel with a connected device, technology and social media can play a major role in providing tourists with a better destination experience.
This includes providing visitors with multilingual guides and up-to-date information on events and weather as well as a platform to share their photos, videos and experiences, he said.
Tourism organisations and relevant authorities can also use the data for a number of purposes from monitoring traffic to promoting niche products. To do this, investment in communications infrastructure, such as installing free Wi-Fi in urban centres, is key.
Mei Zhang, founder of WildChina, said technology will also become more important as tourists become increasingly confident about travelling by themselves. This is especially true for the Chinese market, which is becoming more sophisticated.
"Technology that enables self-guided travel will be the winner," she said.