The challenges and opportunities lying ahead for the travel sector worldwide were analysed at the 8th edition of Exceltur Leadership in Tourism Forum held in Madrid. Behind Exceltur, an ‘Alliance for the Excellency in Tourism’, are 27 leading Spanish travel and tourism companies.
Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General, was optimistic, highlighting that “the world is in good shape”. He sees new factors impacting the travel arena, including the emergence of new businesses, the peer to peer economy, accountability, ethical practices, and also “the forces of darkness” threatening the world´s security. “We have to recognise security is a global challenge and address it together”, he said.
Cuba’s Minister of Tourism, Manuel Marrero Cruz, explained that even after the re-opening of diplomatic relations with the US, American law still forbids its nationals from travelling to the island as tourists. “We are not losing our identity and uniqueness. The Americans will come to Cuba, but they will be dancing to the music we will be playing”, he commented. The entry of American travel companies in Cuba will be good for the industry as “they will introduce more competitiveness in the sector here.”
Change comes faster and faster to the travel industry, which has proved to be ahead of the game in terms of technology adoption. Smart tourism, Social Media Context & Mobile Marketing (SoCoMo), augmented reality, experience management and personalisation are some of the new kids on the block. Professor Dimitrios Buhalis, Director of the e-Tourism Lab, Bournemouth University (UK), elaborates on the technology-driven disruptions that might transform the universe of travel.
Whether or not the travel industry is in a position to leverage social networks remains to be confirmed. Lee McCabe, Global Head of Travel & Commercial Services Strategy, Facebook, has clear ideas on how travel players can use and benefit from what social networks have to offer. He also commented that Facebook has a crucial role to play there.
New technologies are increasingly impacting the travel arena, for both travel providers and end travellers. Alex Luzárraga, Vice President Corporate Strategy, Amadeus, explained in which areas and to what extent this is happening.
Identifying the driving forces that will re-shape the travel industry in coming years is key for the sector. José Antonio Tazón, Chairman of the Board, Amadeus, shed light on how the new three C’s impact the travel arena.