As the European economy turns digital, new challenges for the tourism sector are emerging. The digital traveller demands new experiences, which means new products and increased connectivity. European private and public sectors are feeling the pressure.
Along with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and the European Parliament, we recently held an event in Madrid, Connecting Europe through Innovation, to stimulate discussion around the future of innovation in European tourism and the integration of technology.
Two fundamental issues were addressed. Firstly, how to assist European SMEs in the tourism sector navigate the digital landscape; and secondly, how to face key challenges in intra- and inter-national connectivity through the deployment of digital technology, the promotion of seamless mobility within Europe, and the positioning of Europe as an attractive destination globally.
An area of specific interest is smart mobility. Coach and bus companies have recognised that this is now part of their future. Players already exist in the market, for example Bus & Fly that has been offered via a partnership between ALSA and Iberia. Juan Jesús García, Head of Industry Affairs Europe, Amadeus IT Group, moderated the panel Connecting Europe through smart mobility. Claudia Tapardel, MEP, Co-Chair of the Intergroup on European Tourism Development and Cultural Heritage; Sergi Alegre, President, Airport Regions Conference; Inés Ayala Sender, MEP, Committee on Transport and Tourism; Jaime Rodríguez de Santiago, Country Manager for Spain and Portugal, BlaBlaCar; and Carlos Acha Ledesma, Director of Operations, ALSA, discuss in the following videos the obstacles and benefits of smart mobility throughout Europe.
One shop travel, smart mobility, integrated ticketing, and door-to-door travel are concepts that Europe’s authorities want to be a reality, as per the 2011 EU whitepaper on multimodal travel – hoping that a seamless multimodal transport system will be in place throughout Europe by 2020. Watch this space.