We often believe that every time we gather experts in a meeting to discuss the future of research, new ideas appear easily but they are hardly feasable. That is because we often thihnk in what we would like to happen instead of to imagine what can happen according to what’s happening now and the logical evolution of facts.
Yesterday, I was invited to participate in the Worksop “ICT and innovation in the management of tourist companies and destinations” organized by the Science & Technology Park of Tourism and Leisure, and the University Rovira i Virgili, in Vilaseca, which gathered a group of 45 researchers to discuss the future opportunities for ITC and tourism research.
The first part of the Workshop was dedicated to the presentation of the results of the project “Preliminary Research in the Field of the Application of New ICT in the Management of Destinations” by research groups ITAKA, GRATET and ASTERISC and of the project “Portable Electronic Ticketing Systems: Applications to Tourist Reservations” by research groups CRISES and eManagement. Both presentations where excellent examples where main research issues came to the light. First, there’s a need to analyze what the state of the art of the different research lines in ICT and Tourism are; and second, there must be a strong cooperation and collaboration between academy and business to introduce more innovation in ITC and tourism.
At the round table discussion, coordinated by S. Anton Clavé, General Director of the PCT-TO and Director of the University School of Tourism and Leisure, J. Pons (REDHOTECH network), R. Govers (Tourism of Flanders Chair at the KU Leuven, Belgium), M. Goossen of the ALTERRA centre at the University of Wageningen (Netherlands), speakers presented first different projects related to innovative solutions like the Destination management solution presented by Jimmy Pons, the management of destination brabding by, R. Govers, and the georefentiated guide of tourism destinations by M. Goossen.
The questionspointed mainly to the relation between adequacy of projects and the compromise and involvement of tourism industry in fosteing this kind of innovation. In tourism projects development it often appears that researchers and developers work isolated from tourism business.
In my closure presentation on “Opportunities for Cooperation in National and International Research Programmes” I went through the different frameworks that exist in Europe for research groups to get funds for their projects and I also explained which were the trends that the different agencies have described as the future orientation for ITC & Tourism reserach projects.
As a final conclusion came thet need of research agencies to analyze the flow of innovation and research in tourism and the links between science and business. It seems that most projects are targeted to tourism business but should be participated by ITC industry too. Tourism inustry has a specific structure that makes difficult for single SMeS (the majority of the companies belong to this group) to afford investments in innovative solutions. These companies like to invest in ITC as a commodity rather than as a real business investment. From the other side, projects started and financed by tourism public authorities or DMOs are seldom integrated in to the tourism business. The equilibrium between public, private and research centers has to be found and it probably does not exist at the moment. This could explain the failure of many projects funded with public funds.
There’s a consensus on the research themes for ITC and Tourism between the three stakeholders: ubiquitous communication and information mobility, networking solutions and knowledge sharing, and customer motivation and personalized services, greening management solutions. What’s needed now is to foster in Europe a stronger relationship between research centers and ITC development industry to build solutions that are attractive to tourism industry and to the tourist. The exploitation of these solutions should be in hands of third party companies, interested in offering service to the tourism industry and to the tourist.
These should be seen as new opprtunities for ITC and tourism research.