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Competitiveness and knowledge in the tourist sector.Improving the competitiveness and strategic position through the establishment of a platform for the generation and transmission of Knowledge

Final Report Summary - TOUREG (Competitiveness and knowledge in the tourist sector. Improving the competitiveness and strategic position through ... the generation and transmission of Knowledge)

Executive summary

Tourism has traditionally been a dynamic sector which has experienced greater growth than other sectors in the last few decades. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Tourism 2020 Vision forecasts that international arrivals worldwide will be close to 1.6 billion by 2020, almost doubling the current figures (935 million in 2010). The tourism industry has become a key sector in the European economy. According to the UNWTO, Europe appears as the number one tourism destination in the world in 2010 in terms of international tourist arrivals, with 51 % of the total number of international arrivals in the world (approximately 473 million). As a strategic sector in the European Union (EU), the European Commission (EC) estimated that in 2006, the tourism sector generated more than 4 % of the EU gross domestic product (GDP), employing around 4 % of the total labour force in over 2 million enterprises.

However, tourism needs to tackle not only global challenges but also local ones, becoming more environmentally sustainable and socially integrated in the territory. At the same time tourism requires more knowledge and innovation to become an intelligent industry that maximises the positive impacts and minimises the negative ones, contributing to the prosperous development of the regions. To face new trends and tourism challenges, the generation and transfer of knowledge and technologies in the tourism industry are essential both for business and in the tourism policy planning process.

The strategic objective of the TOUREG project is to create a platform for developing a competitive tourism industry based on the generation and application of knowledge, revolving around a new international research-driven cluster in the tourism industry. TOUREG has been successfully developed with inputs from partners from six regions of varying characteristics, from six different countries in Europe.

These partners can be categorised in three groups based on their experience and maturity in the tourism industry:
1) experienced specialised tourism regions (Illes Balears, Madeira and Crete),
2) developing tourism destinations (South West Bulgaria and Mehedinti),
3) technological developed regions (Norrbottens).

While this well-chosen partner consortium had a triple helix approach at the outset of the project, it has been strengthened involving regional stakeholders such as local businesses, universities, technological centres, technology parks, regional governments and regional development agencies becoming an international research-driven cluster at the end of the project. TOUREG successfully contributed to a deeper knowledge of regional tourism industries in terms of needs, challenges and trends thanks to the active participation and involvement of regional stakeholders. It has also promoted the creation and consolidation of regional cluster initiatives, raising awareness about the importance of innovation, new technologies and cooperation. Thus, TOUREG contributes to the sustainable economic development improving the competitiveness of the tourism industry.

Project context and objectives

There is no doubt about the economic relevance of the tourism industry. According to the WTTC (2010), tourism generates the 10 % of the world GDP, employing approximately 8 % of the world labour force and an annual growth of 4 % is expected between 2010 and 2020. Tourism is a strategic sector in the EU since it increases the foreign currency receipts and it implies a multiplier process on the economic activity through the tourist expenditure, contributing to generate employment, turnover and added value. The EC estimated that tourism generated more than 4 % of the EU gross domestic product (GDP), employing 4 % of the labour force in 2 million enterprises in 2006. However, tourism also has some negative impacts on the economy (opportunity cost, speculation, etc.), on the sociocultural environment (e.g. redistribution of wealth) and on the natural environment (e.g. air, water and noise pollution, degradation derived from construction, etc.).

Tourism is a complex industry that has to face some important challenges and trends not only derived from the economic and financial crisis but also challenges and trends such as globalisation (e.g. technological changes, liberalisation in trade of goods and services, mobility of individuals, emerging markets, etc.); access to information (internet, social media, search engines, mobile phones, etc.); sustainability (e.g. climate change phenomenon, social welfare, etc.), low cost business models, etc.

Tourism is an important industry in the European economy since it is considered to be a cross cutting sector with important implications in the economic, social, cultural and environmental dimensions of territories. Tourism requires more knowledge and innovation to become an intelligent sector able to maximise the positive impacts and minimise the negative ones. In order to remain competitive and tackle new challenges and trends, new knowledge and skills are needed, especially in information and communication technologies (ICT). Innovative solutions are generally lacking in the sector due to the low absorptive capacity for innovation among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The generation and transfer of knowledge and technologies in the tourism sector are essential both for enterprises and for the tourism policy planning process. Cooperation between different stakeholders in the tourism value chain becomes crucial in order to make the tourism industry part of the knowledge economy. The overall aim of the project is to improve the competitiveness and strategic position of the services sector and in particular, the tourist-oriented sectors in participating regions. The strategic objective of the project is to create a platform for developing a competitive tourism industry, based on the generation and application of knowledge revolving around a new international research-driven cluster in the tourism industry. The creation of the cluster facilitates the introduction of the changes needed to promote innovation in the business sector, particularly in SMEs. The direct participation of research organisations enables the process to adjust the research activities to the real business requirements as regards new technologies, equipment, etc.

General objectives

- Adapt and strengthen public research, development and innovation (RDI) policies, either directly or indirectly related to the tourist sector
- Establish an itinerary for the generation and transfer of RDI knowledge in the tourist sector
- Promote, diversify and specialise in RDI activity in the tourist sector
- Facilitate the establishment of a platform for the generation of knowledge in the tourist sector
- Exchange experiences between participating regions and countries
- Increase productivity in the tourist sector.

Special attention was paid to the knowledge transfer from the more experienced regions to those in a development process (South West Bulgaria and Mehedinti). A mentoring programme has been developed during the project promoting innovation, encouraging the inclusion of RDI as part of the political agenda, facilitating the access of SMEs to knowledge about tourism-related RDI, adapting research to the real business needs and disseminating best practices and knowledge.

Specific objectives

- Creation of regional networks to improve competitiveness in the tourist-oriented services sector, with the idea of transferring knowledge, technology and experiences to other regions involved
- A global perspective SWOT analysis on the sector in the areas taking part
- Cooperation between research organisations, businesses and public authorities
- A common model for knowledge transfer between regions
- The identification of synergies for inclusion in a technology map
- Collection of data, analysis and preparation of a feasibility plan for the development of joint action between project partners, action that would help to diversify and specialise RDI in the tourist-oriented services sector with a view to improving its competitiveness
- Reporting of conclusions and recommendations that will help to improve and adapt public RDI policies to the requirements of the sector in question in the participating regions, bearing in mind the European and international context
- The creation and consolidation of a research-driven cluster at international level, structured around the consortium of European partners created in the framework of this project.

The project had a well-defined programme with activities resulting in outputs leading to outcomes, contributing to the desired impact.
The regions involved in this project are in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Sweden.

The partners were categorised in three groups based on their experience:

- Illes Balears (Spain), Madeira (Portugal) and Crete (Greece) are big sun and beach destinations and specialised tourism regions. This group of has reached maturity and consolidation in their tourism market share. They need to diversify the tourism activities creating new products and services, and also incorporate increasing levels innovation to remain competitive. The knowledge accumulated in these regions, due to the tourism specialisation, has led to the acquisition and development of technologies applied to tourism in different subsectors such as environment, energy or ICT.
- Bulgaria and Romania are new members of the European Union with certain potential to become major tourism destinations thanks to their history cultural heritage.
- The Norrbottens region, as the rest of the regions in Sweden, is a technological developed region which is strong in ICT.

The partnership includes a wide diversity of stakeholders or organisations such as local businesses, universities, technological centres and parks, regional governments and development agencies. The consortium has the structure of the triple helix. This is the basis for the creation of a research-driven cluster, a platform for the generation and transfer of technology and knowledge in the tourism sector, increasing the competitiveness of tourism companies, especially SMEs and for bringing the benefits of the research activities to all businesses.

Project results

Main scientific and technological (S&T) results / foregrounds:
Main results
1. An analysis of the situation of the touristic services sector in the regions taking part in the project. This has been the production of a tourism sector SWOT analysis for each of the participating regions.
2. An online technological map resulting in a platform for knowledge transfer.
3. A report on synergies and complementary features on the tourist-oriented service sector in each of the participating regions. This report includes an analysis of regional technological trends and a global analysis including the differences between R&D public policies.
4. The identification of actions of mutual interest both at regional and at transnational level, a result of the active collaboration of all partners during project meetings.
5. An itinerary for generation and transfer of knowledge and technology.
6. A handbook on how to apply information technologies (IT) efficiently in the tourism industry.
7. A report of conclusions and recommendations for future public RDI policies in the Tourism Sector.
8. A joint action plan to ensure continuity of the research-driven cluster.

1. An analysis of the tourism services sector (Deliverable 2.1)

Background
The analysis of the services sector linked to tourism (SWOT analysis) was the starting point of the project. The output served as input for the activities needed to achieve the following general objectives:

- adapt and to strengthen public RDI policies, either directly or indirectly related to the tourist sector;
- promote, diversify and specialise in RDI activity in the tourism sector;
- exchange experiences among the participating regions and countries.

Objective
Analyse the importance of the tourist-oriented services sector in regional economies and its characteristics in regions taking part in the project.

Target group
Policymakers and tourism stakeholders of different regions.

Methodology
The interviews carried out with the most important players in the sector in each region were a major part of work package (WP)2. While a total of 50 interviews were initially planned, a total of 142 were completed. Of these, 49 were carried out with tourism businesses and 64 were with technological suppliers. 29 interviews were carried out with policy makers. Each region produced a regional report with the following information:

- the background of the region;
- public policies at European, national and regional level which configure the framework for tourism and the RDI activities;
- main characteristics of the regional tourism sector: model, specialisation, supply and demand, competitors, education and impact in the region;
- main stakeholders in the region;
- issues, needs and problems of tourist services SMEs in the region;
- technologies and innovation in tourism sector in the region: statistical data, trends and priorities in the region, research lines and innovations able to be applied to tourism sector and identification of best practices;
- SWOT analysis of tourism in the region;
- definition of action priorities in the region;
- conclusions.

The interviews served to establish links with stakeholders in each region. These interviews made it possible to disseminate the project objectives and activities and to generate interest. The links established and the interest generated resulted in stakeholders taking part in the working groups and regional seminars. The information gathered at these events served to complete the regional reports. The completed reports contain important information which can be taken into account in each region in order to define tourism policies or strategies. The analysis of the information contained in the regional reports and the general information collected was compiled in the production of the report of the analysis of the situation of the services sector linked to tourism in the regions taking part in the project.

Sector SWOT analysis:

Content
The report provides an overview of the importance and the influence of the sectors’ ICT, energy and environment in tourism sector. ICT has impacted the tourism business model and interactions. ICT and the use of the internet have been changing the way tourism businesses operate. Electronic intermediaries are emerging and challenging traditional distributors. The travel and tourism industry has benefited tremendously from the implementation of ICT. The growth of the internet and new technologies in general, has influenced the overall sector and more specifically destinations, in terms of promoting themselves and reaching potential customers who seek information and complete their purchase online. Important innovative actions in the hotel/building sector include improving building thermal integrity, reducing the carbon intensity of fuels used in buildings, and increasing the energy efficiency of appliances and equipment. Innovative transport alternatives and renewable transportation fuels are key-factors for the tourism sector along with the innovative building/hotel technologies, since approximately 50 % of the energy used in buildings is devoted to producing artificial indoor climate control through heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting.

A typical building energy bill constitutes approximately 25 % of the building's total operating costs, while estimates indicate that climate-sensitive design using available technologies could cut heating and cooling energy consumption by 60 % and lighting energy requirements by at least 50 % in the US. Most tourism destinations rely on their natural environment to attract visitors, in particular the 3S (sea-sun-sand) visitors. However, research carried out in the hotel and travel industry shows that travel industry is not fully immersed into environmental technology application programmes. It is estimated that, depending on the hotel standard, guests generally consume between 170 and 360 litres of water per night. The environment is a needed reason for competitiveness of the destination and tourists are becoming more aware of sustainability and demand this when their make a choice of destination.

Conclusion
Not just the tourism businesses, but also regional tourism policy makers should include these issues in their conception of the tourism model. This report is a useful tool to learn about the importance of these sectors in the tourism competitiveness and their inclusion in public policies.

2. Technological map (Deliverable 2.2)

Background
During the first stage of the project the partners worked on the production of a technology map in order to identify the main technologies related to ICT, energy and environment, technologies which could be applied in the tourism sector and the main needs in these areas in each region. The partners agreed on producing a dynamic tool which could match needs and technological solutions. It was agreed to incorporate this on the project website to make it accessible as a knowledge transfer tool. The technology tool is a virtual market of technological solutions for the tourism sector. This online tool was not initially planned in the project but has contributed to enhancing the project objectives and is of great added value to the project.

Objective
Identify the supply and demand for technologies linked to tourist-oriented services sector in all regions taking part. The aim of the online tool is to provide:

- a simple and intuitive interface to present all information and content about the technological applications and demands identified in the participating regions;
- a regular update of information contained in the technology map;
- the information is processed and transformed into a structured knowledge base available for firms established in the partner regions of the project;
- the knowledge base automatically loads the information to a query interface;
- the interface is dynamic and designed to connect suppliers and technological demands of the participating regions (matching process).

Target group
SME tourism business and technological tourism providers.

Methodology
A) Classification of technologies into subcategories - Identifying and classifying all technologies during the interview phase. Only a simple crosscheck was used during the interviews.

B) Interviews and surveys
- Supply: The collection of information regarding available technology in questionnaires and bilateral interviews. These interviews allowed for the identification of technologies developed considered sectors. The contacts established served to encourage stakeholders to take part in the project as experts. These stakeholders took part in a regional round where technology transfer was subsequently validated.
- Demand: The collection of information regarding technological needs (regional analysis survey results). These interviews offered the project partners the possibility to present the project to the tourism industry and collect information.

C) Results analysis
Each partner prepared a document which presented the situation of supply and demand in their region:
- Supply: analysis of interview results should be aimed at basic characteristics of each technology and its developers. Also, to evaluate the (potential) impact in the tourism sector and its subsectors. And identify synergies with other technologies or characteristic elements of the tourism sector to detect improving areas or R&D lines to be covered and the technology situation and the way to be transferable.
- Demand: Qualitative and quantitative information analysis obtained from questionnaires and interviews and needs description per area.

D) Validation
The partners PEMENCO & CDT Lulea were chosen, based on their experience and specialisation. They gathered all regional analysis and validated the technological map along with the identified technologies in each region. The outcome was the identification of technologies transferable between regions and research and technological development lines of mutual interest.

E) Technological map
There are two types of dynamic maps aimed at two different user targets: the demand (users / consumers) and the supply (manufacturers).

Demand map
Tourism businesses have been able to include their needs of technological solutions in different sectors and subsectors through the completion of a questionnaire. Then the main needs are displayed by sectors and solutions. Technological suppliers can look for their target market, new customers, etc.

Different levels were defined: sector, needs, technology details and consumer contacts:

First level: Different areas with greater potential for optimisation are displayed related communication and hardware, ICT solutions, Renewable and saving energy solutions, water and others.
Second level: The map enumerates some available solutions and technologies for the resolution of the problem selected; this can be considered as a catalogue of solutions.
Third level: Once the solution / technology is chosen, the map responds with a results sheet containing technical and financial information and a suppliers list.
Fourth level: Once the supplier is chosen, the map presents the available contact information of the tourism business interested in this type of technological solution.

Supply map
Tourism businesses can directly find a technological solution in the supply map, where the information obtained from technological suppliers is displayed.

The levels are structured by sector, solutions, technology and supplier contact:

First level: the sectors and subsectors are listed.
Second level: the map presents all solutions available in these areas.
Third level: Once the solution is chosen, the map responds with information about the technology and a list of suppliers.
Fourth level: contact information about suppliers is provided.

Content

The technology map is one of the main research results. The importance of this tool is to be useful and a reference in other initiatives. This tool allows the identification of potentially transferable technologies to other European regions, in environmental, ICT and energy sectors, related to the tourism sector. The technology map collected information about 99 technological solutions, 75 technological suppliers and 48 demands registered in the online tool. The region which included more technological solution for the tourism sector was Balearic Islands, where there are a lot of companies which provide ICT solutions for tourism sector which are grouped in an ICT tourism cluster (TURISTEC). Crete and Mehedinti are the regions where needs were registered in the online tool. Most of the technological solutions are specialised and orientated to hospitality, travel agencies, tour operators and air transportation. According to the specific type of solutions, these are mostly related to ICT solutions (CRS, GDS and ERP) and energy (solar heating and cooling and photovoltaic power).

Conclusion

The contribution of the technological map has been to identify the technologies available in each region as well as the demand concerning these technologies and to foster the exchange of knowledge between offer and demand.

3. Report on synergies and complementary features in the tourist-oriented service sector (Deliverable 3.1)

Background
The report on synergies and complementary features was made during the second and third year of the project. A global analysis with similarities and differences among regions specifically in what concerns public policies is presented in this report. The main goal was to produce useful guidelines to use in future strategies.

Objective
Discover synergies and complementary features in the tourist-oriented services sector between regions taking part in the project.

Target group
Policy makers and tourism stakeholders.

Methodology
Regional players were involved in the work development carried out during two regional meetings in each region and in two transnational seminars.

These were the objectives.
First working meeting: Partners and regional players defined the lines of action and technologies for focusing the analysis. Aspects such as sustainability, associated with aspects such as shore saturation levels, energy saving and efficiency, alternative energies, besides ICT, were analysed.
Second working meeting: Regional players decided which technologies could be potentially transferable to the other regions. This package of technologies was structured according to several criteria: feasibility, potential synergies, experience, demonstration effect and potential interest of application in SME. Next to that, regional players pointed out some actions of mutual interest.

Content
An average of 10 regional players took part in the working meetings. The report provides an overview of best practices and trends found in each region and the starting point and situation of each region related to tourism and services sector. The report contributes to the exchange of knowledge and learning processes among all regions taking part in the project about similarities and differences not only in tourism but also in public policies adopted by each region. The report includes information about public policies in each region, the selection of potentially transferable technologies in each region, a selection of cases studies, and a list of possible project ideas to develop in each region. These ideas are part of the actions of mutual interest identified in each region.

4. Identification of actions of mutual interest (Deliverable 3.2)

Background
The involvement of local stakeholders was fruitful and regional players took part actively. These encounters served to promote the exchange of experiences at a regional and interregional level and participants were further informed and updated on the progress of the project. Through their involvement they contributed with their experiences and knowledge of the area.

Objectives
- Identify potential joint lines of the services sector and tourist industry-related research and technological development for regions taking part in the project.
- Identification of potential projects.
- Selection of the technologies and applications with transfer potential between regions taking part in the project.
- Pre-feasibility analysis of potential projects.

Target group
Tourism regional stakeholders

Methodology
Information obtained from the working meetings was combined with questionnaires completed by partners in order to identify lines of interest in the project continuity.

Content
The result was the identification of eight major areas of mutual interest:
- training and educational programmes;
- ICT applied to the tourism sector;
- sustainability;
- tourism competitiveness and RDI in tourism policies;
- TOUREG impacts and results (technology map);
- tourism management;
- destination measures and solutions;
- transport and accessibility.

Conclusion
The results obtained were useful to determine the areas and lines of action to include in the joint action plan, which is the expression of the sustainability and continuity of the project.

5. Itinerary for generation and transfer of knowledge and technology (Deliverable 4.2)

Background
The itinerary for the generation and transfer of technology is specifically focused on the transfer of knowledge between different actors of the innovation system in the tourism business sector. The object of the project was to facilitate the transfer of knowledge in the tourist sector at various levels and the itinerary has been intended as a guideline on knowledge and technology transfer for companies of the tourism sector, especially SMEs. Europe is in the international lead in scientific production, but is less successful in the commercial exploitation of research results. This has importance in the case of SMEs, which represent almost 99 % of European companies and need to incorporate innovation to increase their competitiveness. It is a complicated and complex matter for SMEs to collect all necessary knowledge to deal with the fast development in technology´s and innovations.

This knowledge is available among different actors within the innovation system. The ideal formula to be more competitive is not always to have all the technological resources available within the company, but to know that external sources can provide these resources. An innovation strategy in which the company combines its internal resources and knowledge with external resources and knowledge is called open innovation. To be able to achieve this, the company needs to know where to find information and different actors in the innovation system. It is important for an SME to know and understand the different actors and their roles within the innovation system. The itinerary includes a section explaining the different type of agents that are involved in the innovation system. It is important to take into account specific aspects related to the tourism industry to assure an effective transfer of knowledge and technology, such as the structural aspects of tourism enterprises (size, membership in a business group or network, etc.), the role of global trade and the institutional framework in relationship to research, etc.

There are other success factors to be considered regarding transfer of knowledge and technology for a company without considering their sector of business activity like:

- tools to detect research groups and innovative technologies with potential for exploitation in the market;
- adequate protection of knowledge and the results of research, as this will make it easier to transfer to other companies and organizations;
- learn about the various existing mechanisms of technology transfer and marketing;
- know about the infrastructures of R&D and the support existing available for innovation such as the services offered to companies, science parks, technology parks, incubators, technology centres, and research centres, etc.
- establish relationships and strategic alliances with both companies and intermediary infrastructures providing support for innovation.

Objective
Define an itinerary for the generation and transfer of technology.

Target group
Tourism SMEs.

Methodology
With the tourist sector in mind, an easy itinerary was designed to give a picture of the innovation process and transfer of knowledge in a tourism company. It should be noted that in most companies, the innovation and generation and transfer of the knowledge process is usually not defined and formalised. The starting point for a company should be to select potential lines of action which will constitute the basis on which the company will work to gain a competitive advantage and be successful. Possible lines of actions could be the purchase of a technology, the identification of the resources to implement or use of the technology and the exploitation of research results. A proposal of itinerary for generation and transfer of knowledge and technology was defined and includes six main steps in this process: focus, surveillance, assessment, up-skilling, introduction, learn and focus.

Content
Focus: The main objective of the company is to select potential lines of action which will constitute the basis on which the company will work to gain a competitive advantage and be successful. Once these are defined, the resources needed for their execution need to be assigned. An important tool that is widely used is the technology audit (analysing the company's current technological capacity and identifying its technological needs and the technological opportunities available to meet these needs). In this stage of the technology transfer itinerary, if a company wishes to open the spectrum for the definition of priority areas and actions not only in technology, there are other tools and resources that facilitate this task. Examples are the technology roadmap and the patent analysis.
Technology surveillance: 'a systematic process, to capture abroad and the own organisation information on science and technology, select it, analyse, disseminate it, and communicate it, to become knowledge to make decisions with little risk and be able to anticipate changes and selective'. When technology surveillance is used for strategic purposes, it is known as competitive intelligence. Besides technology surveillance, competitive surveillance is important in the tourism industry. This is carried out through the constant analysis of preferences and interests of customers and activities developed by competitors.
Technology assessment: The process by which different implications of technological development are evaluated beyond their profitability or technical development possibilities. This allows companies to maximise technological opportunities of interest and reduce the risk of their development or incorporation / acquisition of any business carried out with this technology.

The most common methodology is the technology identification and marketability evaluation (TIME) model, which serves to assess the commercial interest of the technology and the potential of the market.
Up- skilling: Acquiring the needed knowledge to put selected lines of actions into practice. The business has to be aware of complementary knowledge in order for the technology to be successful. Up-skilling involves training to cover the resources needed by the company for the implementation of a previously identified project and the skills needed in human resources development. Introduction of technology: Ever-shortening product life cycles and accelerating rates of technological change have created a greater need to effectively transfer technology and knowledge across organisational boundaries across most areas of business and branches. The implementation phase of a technology or of innovation in the company is the core of the process and the end result is technology acquisition and transfer of technology. It is clearly necessary to take care of aspects such as efficiency in the implementation process, time, cost and quality. The correct definition of the implementation process and its management will be the central axes of action at this stage of the process.
To learn: To obtain knowledge from experiences based on reflecting on cases of success or failure. The way to learn from the implementation of an innovation project will be based on the necessary evaluation of the project so that one can learn from good practices as well as errors. The most common tools for this last stage of learning are the use of specific indicators for monitoring the implementation process and the results obtained after this process, the tools linked to continuous improvement or knowledge management.

Conclusion
This report provides an overview for tourism SMEs about the different agents, processes and steps to take into account in the selection, identification and introduction of innovation and technologies.

6. Handbook on applying IT efficiently in the tourist industry (Deliverable 4.3)

Background
The handbook was prepared to promote competitiveness in the tourism sector through the use of new technologies in energy, environmental and especially on ICT.

Objective
To network all actors from the tourism and R&D sector to facilitate knowledge exchange, and demonstrate that this collaboration will make tourism industry more flexible and competitive and help the R&D sector to expand by opening new markets.

Target group

The handbook is addressed to:

- businesses linked to the tourism industry and especially SMEs in tourism (SMTE);
- activities based on new technologies or R&D activities;
- policy makers and public institutions in innovation and tourism policies;
- everyone concerned by the competitiveness and sustainability of the tourism sector.

Methodology
The document produced is practical for the SMEs in the tourism sector and for technological providers serving the sector. The document is divided into two parts:

- focused on SMEs in the tourism sector where best practices, specific issues related to innovation in the tourism sector and the common mistakes to avoid are outlined;
- focused on technological providers and seen from the technological supply of the tourism sector perspective.

Content
The document outlines 10 recommendations to develop IT for SMEs. 10 recommendations for the adoption of new ICT by SMEs were produced and published as a flyer which was disseminated at events organised at the end of the project (regional seminars, technological pilot encounter and final conference).

Conclusion
A solid relationship between the activities in the tourism sector and the ICT sector is of mutual benefit. Tourism becomes more competitive thanks to the use of new technologies and ICTs, and technological companies benefit of the growth of their market due to the increase in demand of these products by the tourism sector. ICTs have many advantages of internationalising, as working with tourism enterprises gives the SMEs the opportunity to get to know other markets without assuming much risk, since they already have their loyal clients, the tourism enterprises.

7. Report of conclusions and recommendations (Deliverable 5.1)

Background
During the project, partners identified that conclusions and recommendations could be taken into account in the definition of RDI public policies linked to tourism.

Objective
The objective of this document is to provide a guideline for public authorities to adjust, adapt, and define public RDI to construct the competitive advantage of the service sector linked to tourism, based on cooperation between researchers and business.

Target group
This report will be useful for regional governments which want to develop RDI policies in tourism. The starting point is to understand what is happening in the region and what the realities and needs are, related to tourism sector. The second step is the definition of an RDI in tourism strategy which involves key players in the elaboration of a common vision coordinated by a leader entity. Key players come from regional innovation systems and tourism value chains.

Content
The recommendations on the key issues related to the RDI policies linked to tourism industry are:

1. definition of tourism public policies aligned with RDI policies;
2. development of a roadmap that aims to improve the functioning mechanisms of the innovation system and increases the intensity of interaction between units of the system;
3. take advantage of the research and projects that have already been developed;
4. to define and implement a consensus policy for sustainable tourism among all actors involved;
5. identify, promote, disseminate, introduce and implement technologies which could contribute to the tourism sector’s competitiveness and sustainability;
6. sustainability as a transversal issue;
7. create an incentive system to carry out RDI activities in companies;
8. creating long-term incentives to encourage technology transfer from publicly and privately funded research organisations to tourism organizations;
9. promoting entrepreneurship training in secondary and higher schools through the support of public-private partnership programmes involving the business sector and universities;
10. the existing clusters in tourism industry and organisations willing to create or join clusters, should be defined and mapped;
11. enhancing inter-cluster cooperation at national and international level;
12. supporting the creation of a common platform for tourism industry;
13. encouraging tourism SMEs to define and implement e-tourism services in their business;
14. ensuring funding opportunities for private investments and public projects in the tourism industry;
15. effectively exploit the high quality tourism infrastructures.

Conclusions
The starting point to define RDI policies linked to tourism is to understand what is happening in the region, its realities and needs in terms of the tourism industry. The strategy definition process should involve all key regional agents linked to the innovation system and to the tourism value chain.

The key aspects in the definition of this strategy about the RDI policies linked to tourism industry are:

1. a common regional tourism vision definition
2. the existence of integrated tourism policy
3. commercialisation support
4. to analyse and to evaluate policies results on RDI
5. people are a key factor in tourism
6. technology is one of the key success factors
7. tourism destinations can be not only tourism experiences laboratories, but also tourism knowledge exporters
8. support improvement of education and human resources
9. implement RDI policies for exploiting natural environment
10. involve RDI stakeholders in the marketing and promotion
11. to ensure general infrastructure and tourism infrastructure.

In the regions with less experience in tourism, several main problems were identified:

- the lack of information on the existence of new technologies applicable in the tourism industry;
- the need of a common platform for advertising and generating tourism information about destinations;
- the labour market in the country is marked by serious and intensifying divergence. There is a gap between the skills required by the tourism companies and therefore there is a need in the training field.

The concept of a cluster is seen as a good tool to solve problems and to carry out specific measures. In Bulgaria, clustering activities are supported by the Structural Funds. In other regions, the creation of a regional tourism and innovation cluster has shown to be a key element for successful knowledge exchange inside the region and with external partners. Other regions like the Balearic Islands have well-established important clusters linked to the tourism industry. These clusters can contribute with their experience transferring it to other regions. Consolidation of the international research-driven cluster will be the ideal platform for bringing together European clusters experiences linked to tourism.

8. Joint action plan (Deliverable 6.1)

Background
The joint action plan is a tool which assures the continuity of the project. This document collects the knowledge obtained in the project and defines a strategy of continuity going deeper into specific areas.

Objective
To achieve the viability and continuity of the international cluster created, in view of the preliminary analyses produced and of the priorities drawn up for action in all the regions taking part, including actions of mutual interest capable of being performed in the framework of other European initiatives.

Target group
TOUREG (future) partners.

Methodology
The methodology is divided into the following steps:

- definition of a methodology and document structure;
- design of a template to collect partner’s areas of interest for the continuity of the project;
- design a template for the collection of information about the organisations which showed their interest in the project and whose contribution could be interesting for the network continuity;
- selection of areas of action, done through a synthesis partners’ interest and the work done in previous stages;
- identification of calls within the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), CIP, and other programmes suitable for the project continuity;
- preparation of a draft document that included work plan, background, etc.
- the Swedish partners validated the final joint action plan.

Content
The document is divided in two parts, the first one focused on the project experience and the second focused on its continuity. The areas of action selected are a result of the consolidation and analysis of the information collected in the regional working meetings (WP3) and the areas of interest continuity (WP6) submitted by the partners. It is important to highlight that the joint action plan includes a pilot solution which is a complete proposal of the mentoring activities to be carried out in the Bulgarian and Romanian regions, since they have less experience in the tourism industry. The proposal is based on regional reports and needs, and was validated by the Bulgarian partners. The mentoring activities included study visits, staff exchange programmes, training and mentoring in own country and virtual study visits.

Conclusion
During the final period of the project, partners identified players who showed interest and had the capacity to join the research-driven cluster during the regional working meetings and seminars. As a result, 16 new organisations are taking part in the new partnership. These organisations are of varying characteristics: research centres, universities, mass media, SME, clusters, etc.

Potential impact:

The tourism industry is of great importance to some European countries, with significant weight in the economy of these territories, both in terms of GDP and the share of employment. It is an opportunity for development and economic diversification in other regions and countries. Tourism is a platform for generation of creative and cultural activities through the 'pull effect' it exercises over cultural factors. It is a platform or space, rich in social and cultural diversity. Tourism is a strategic activity; a factor which helps to promote and market the region, projecting a positive image that may influence aspects such as attracting foreign direct investment, attracting talent and economic activities; contributing ultimately to the economic and social development in the region. The tourism industry has been a buoyant industry that has experienced significant growth since the sixties. This rapid growth meant that the incorporation of innovation and technology has been ignored in favour of the employment of low-skilled labour. These factors have become a weaknesses and a touchstone of competitiveness of the tourist regions since the international economic crisis exploded. The identification and introduction of innovative technologies and solutions that improve the competitiveness of tourism companies is a strategic factor to convert these companies and the regions in which they are located into attractive and competitive destinations. TOUREG has worked to improve the competitiveness of the tourism industry and its companies identifying innovative technological solutions and promoting their transfer. The project has worked in sectors of strategic interest for tourism which in turn pose major challenges.

The challenges are as follows:

- Tourism is an activity dependant on the territory; the more diverse, attractive and sustainable; the better prepared a territory is to attract quality tourism. Sustainability influences the competitiveness of the sector in regions such as those located in the south of Europe, where it is anticipated that climate change will impact negatively on areas with higher temperatures increasing the risk of desertification and a loss of sustainability. Technologies in various areas related to sustainability have been identified. Through the various activities of the project technology needs in these areas were identified along with the technological solutions that cover them. Contact began to be established with companies involved with technological supply and demand. Formal contacts were made between companies form the Swedish clean technologies sector and companies from the Balearic tourism industry. Another positive factor is that until now the tourism industry was a niche market for these Swedish companies and that through the project they expanded their market not to new sectors and expanded geographically.
- The ICT sector revolutionised the business model for tourism companies across the value chain. ICT brought services such as transportation and accommodation closer to the client, without having to rely on intermediaries. Technological solutions aimed at the tourist-oriented sector greatly improve the productivity of tourism businesses. The project identified technologies in this sector with applicability in tourism, identifying great expertise in this sector in some regions such as the Balearic Islands, where ICT developed a tourism cluster grouping 75 organisations (almost 60 companies) providing ICT solutions for the tourism industry.
- The energy sector and its applicability to tourism has been addressed. The project identified needs and innovative technological solutions in this area. Tourism companies should encourage energetic savings and process efficiency and the introduction and use of renewable energy to reduce these fixed costs and contribution to greater sustainability. Another important challenge in this field is the implementation of lines of research in the measuring of the impact of 'peak oil' on the economy of the tourist regions, especially those most isolated by fragmentation, insularity, remoteness, and the search for alternatives to air and maritime transport.

The main impact was the opportunity to create regional clusters in tourism innovation or to work more in cluster initiatives already existing in the regions. Through the fieldwork developed throughout the project and conducted outreach activities increased awareness has been achieved; interest and awareness about the need to meet challenges in tourism through innovation and cooperation, both at regional, national and international level. The awareness of the importance of innovation, technology and knowledge transfer, and cooperation as critical factors in competitiveness, has increased among different agents from the regions.

This meant an increase in cooperation between regional agents, resulting in greater commitment. The project has served to generate dynamic work practices in regions that are experiencing benefits from the creation of tourist innovation clusters and networks of cooperation. Some initiatives are a direct result of the project and are focused in the tourism industry (Madeira and Crete). Other cluster initiatives have been created and consolidated while the project was being developed (Balearic Islands Clusters). In the case of Bulgaria, while the cluster initiatives are related to other sectors, they have served to strengthen the services sector linked to tourism.

Balearic Islands experience in tourism cluster

Tourism in Balearic Islands is an industry with a great impact on the regional economy. Traditionally, the region specialised in a tourism model based on sun and beach. However, in the last years the region has been developing different tourist products. To cater for the high number of companies working in the tourism and the almost 9 million tourists visiting the islands each year, some specialist subsectors such as ICT applied to tourism have developed. ICT is recognised as a sector which impacts the competitiveness of the tourism sector directly. In 2008, several SMEs which work in the area of ICT for tourism began considering the advantages of developing a cluster initiative and defined strategy to develop it. This was the beginning of TURISTEC, the ICT tourism cluster in the Balearic Islands. 72 businesses are currently members of the cluster. The various tourism stakeholders have become aware of new challenges for tourism in the new century requiring a transformation in the tourist industry. These challenges are the loss of competitiveness and increasing competition, the need for sustainability as a transversal factor in the general activity, the requirement for quality of destination, RDI as a competitiveness factor, cooperation among different stakeholders involved in tourism sector as a factor for overall competitiveness, internationalisation and recognition also as a competitiveness factor. This was the starting point for the cluster for innovation in tourism in the Balearic Islands.

Mission
To consolidate the Balearic Islands as a source of knowledge, technology, tourism sustainability and innovation, encouraging the development and use of new technologies throughout the value chain of the tourism industry, facilitating competition at international level and helping to diversify and improve the quality of supply in the Balearics.

Objectives

- Consolidation and integration of the value chain of tourism in the Balearic Islands, diversifying supply and address seasonality.
- Improving the competitiveness of the value chain of tourism in the Balearic Islands through innovation, excellence and quality.
- Increased international presence of Balearic tourist companies in the value chain.
- Develop a public-private partnership that promotes effective and fruitful cooperation among members of the cluster and their environment.
- Achieving and maintaining a sustainable funding cluster.

Lines of action

- Technology and innovation for more excellence and quality in tourism.
- Internationalisation from know-how accumulated in the value chain of the tourism sector.
- Human capital value chain.
- Integral sustainability in the value chain.

Participants
The cluster groups, several entities of the regional government, Chamber of Commerce, the Balearic Islands University, the Technology Park of Balearic Islands, IBIT Foundation, the Research and Development in Tourism Centre (CIDTUR), several big tourist companies and tourist SMEs, etc.

Madeira experience in tourism cluster

The project has allowed that the cluster for innovation in tourism in the Autonomous Region of Madeira - CITURAM has arisen. Working meetings exceeded the initial expectations of partners and regional stakeholders which offer their resources to support the continuity of these working meetings and to establish the basis for the constitution of regional innovation tourism cluster. Public and private organisations interested in building the cluster, have established the main lines of its strategy.

Mission

To promote innovation in tourism, contributing to the sustainability, quality and competitiveness of the sector and thus for regional development.

Vision
Projecting Madeira as an international reference in the field of innovation applied to tourism.

Goals
- Establish a cluster of public and private entities that incorporate all economic sectors that (in)directly support tourism in the Madeira Region.
- Find common problems.
- Promote innovative projects that improve efficiency and competitiveness of the sector.
- Promote involvement of local stakeholders in developing projects.
- Promote regional cooperation among actors from different sectors.
- Promote participation of local actors in European cooperation projects.
- Interact with other European clusters with a similar mission.
- Monitor the work being developed in other European clusters.
- Promote the exchange of experiences among actors from different European regions.

Participants
The institutional core existed of a large list of active members.

Enterprise nucleus
Several relevant entities in the regional context have an important role.

Observers
Organisations relevant to the tourism sector in Madeira, but that are external to the RAM or do not have a direct intervention. Their involvement in the cluster enables them to be regularly informed of the initiatives and occasionally being invited to participate or express their opinion.

Operation guidelines
Every year three or four scheduled meetings organised by ACIF-CCIM will take place. Where identified an initiative of common interest will be selected a set of volunteers to develop the idea and to follow up its implementation.

Crete experience in tourism cluster

During the implementation of the project, several initiatives and activities have been promoted to support the creation and development of a research-driven cluster in tourism. The Regional Operational Programme (ROP 2007-2013) is supporting actions related with networking in tourism as well as activities towards utilisation of tourism and cultural resources. Two main initiatives towards this direction were undertaken during 2010, at local level. The first initiative is related with the establishment of an International Centre for Excellence, Innovation and Training in Tourism (IAKET). A network of HEIs, local authorities and stakeholders undertook the responsibility to prepare a feasibility study for the establishment of IAKET.

The proposed model is a network of cooperating centres and organisations. The second initiative is the creation of a network within the 'Regional Innovation Council of Crete' (RIC). RIC is expected to work as a think tank to the regional governor and council, providing mentoring and support in innovation and regional development issues. RIC will be organised in several networks around regional developmental issues and priorities, including tourism. Members of the tourism network all will be regional stakeholders related with tourism. Its main goals are to provide support to the regional council and promote networking activities between the regional stakeholders in the tourism sector. In addition to these activities, several organisations expressed their interest to participate to a research-driven tourism cluster.

Bulgarian experience in tourism cluster

During the project implementation, the ARC Fund established a good cooperation with the Bulgarian Association of Business Clusters with the idea to better understand the operational problems of existing clusters and new programmes and initiatives to establish tourism clusters in the country. ARC Fund organised a seminar addressing cluster development measures applicable for Bulgarian clusters, associations and technology parks. The Bulgarian Association of Business Clusters was established by eight clusters. The cooperation with the association will strengthen ARC Fund's position in enhancing tourism cluster establishment and cluster supporting activities. The association will work towards tourism cluster establishment involving the Bulgarian ICT cluster and tourism organisation in the region. The Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (BSMEPA) is the main administrative and executive body of the OP Competitiveness (EU Structural Funds) for cluster development.

ARC Fund made recommendations for the programme improvement in terms of and internal organisation, cluster management and to add additional grants supporting cluster establishment. In most of the regions, the number of demands or suppliers registered in the technological map on line tool is higher than the SMEs and companies involved directly in the project. Therefore, it is understood that the results of the project have been and are still being correctly disseminated in the participating regions. This is an indication that project outputs are of interest for tourism and technological companies. TOUREG has increased awareness on tourism challenges and the importance of the RDI and cooperation at different levels. A consequence is that the research-driven cluster partnership has been diversified and reinforced through the high number and type of entities from the regions taking part in the project.

Other impacts
- Regional tourism SMEs have realised the importance of the introduction of innovation in their activities to be competitive. Regional meetings have exceeded the initial expectations and some regional organisations are determined to maintain these regional meetings as a strategic network for region development.
- Technological providers in different areas have realised that tourism is an opportunity, a market not well explored by them.
- The meetings and working groups at regional level have contributed to consolidating regional clusters initiatives, involving major players. They have resulted in an increase in the knowledge of RDI stakeholders in relation to the characteristics of the tourism industry. This has led to a different improved approach to relationships with the industry, thus increasing the opportunities for cooperation in some areas.
- A learning process among regions, partners and SMEs was developed.
- The project has produced useful results for policy makers, the SWOT analysis, conclusions and recommendations, key in the definition of public policies related to RDI and tourism. In the case of Norrbotten, there has been increased political interest for tourism as an important business opportunity in remote and rural areas. In Sweden, policy makers have realised the importance of the tourism industry as a generator of employment.
- Regions can take advantage of the project and its conclusions and recommendations using them in the definition and implementation of RDI public policies related to the tourism industry.
- The project has allowed for definition of possible collaborative projects related to tourism and RDI in the industry among different agents of the regions taking part in the project. These projects are ambitious and therefore it is advisable to approach them using the experience of a solid proven partnership, with a European dimension.

Related to the results achieved in the project, they have been disseminated in the regions, and will be a basis of some of the actions to develop in the continuity of the project. Some of them will be improved. The most important guarantee of the project sustainability is the interest of partners in strengthening the collaboration among participating regions through a new project. This new project will be the continuity of the TOUREG project. It will allow for the optimisation and multiplication of the synergies and results of the project. This new project will emerge from the joint action plan and will help to consolidate the research-driven cluster. While the new consortium is trying to launch the joint action plan, in the regions the meetings are still being organised in order to consolidate the outputs and results developed in the project. The project website was updated and improved continuously during the project.

Website: http://www.tourisminnovation.eu

Govern de les Illes Balears. Dirección General de Investigación, Desarrollo Tecnológico e Innovación
Ctra. de Valldemossa, km 7,4. Parc BIT.
Edifici Naorte, Bloc A, 3a planta - 07121 Palma de Mallorca
Contact person: Jaime Bagur, jbagur@dgrdi.caib.es via e-mail, +34-971-176312

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 206829

Status

Closed project

  • Start date

    1 January 2008

  • End date

    31 December 2010

Funded under:

FP7-REGIONS

  • Overall budget:

    € 1 078 968,34

  • EU contribution

    € 979 198,11

Coordinated by:

ILLES BALEARS