UNWTO partners with Telefónica to promote tourism sector digitalisation

Telefónica and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) have announced an agreement to collaborate in the development and implementation of digital entrepreneurship and training initiatives that allow the tourism sector to increase its competitiveness and strengthen its long-term sustainability. This agreement comes at a time of profound technological change that impacts all industrial sectors, where a commitment to innovation and transformation is essential.

In this regard, the application of new technologies such as Big Data and the Internet of Things are already leading to new uses and applications that will revolutionise services in the tourism sector and responses to new customer demands. For this reason, this alliance places special emphasis on jointly addressing the challenges and opportunities that this technological change entails and initially takes concrete form in four specific lines of action.

First, both parties are committed to promoting innovation and digital entrepreneurship within the tourism sector through the creation of innovation forums, collaboration in open innovation programmes with third parties, and public-private collaboration models focused on Open Innovation. The aim of these initiatives is to create suitable spaces for the development of innovative ideas and outreach to all the actors involved.

New technologies will have an increasing role in the modernisation and growth possibilities of the tourism sector and, therefore, both entities will launch initiatives aimed at the use of Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, among others. An enormous amount of knowledge is generated about the behaviour of travellers through the sensors that make up the different IoT services, allowing us to offer them what they particularly need at any given moment.

On the other hand, the analysis of Big Data makes it possible to understand patterns of behaviour to better address some of the challenges facing tourism in Latin America and Europe, and to draw relevant conclusions that influence decision-making and public policies. LUCA – Telefónica’s Big Data and AI unit – is already working with national and local tourism organisations in eight countries in Latin America and Europe through more than 40 projects.

Another important point of this agreement is to focus on Digital Education and Training. Both entities will collaborate through the training platforms managed by Telefónica Educación Digital, such as Miríadax, to promote local and international courses on digital technologies and skills applied to tourism and aimed at different entities in the sector.

Telefónica will also lend its support to the UNWTO in the development of a specific Digital Agenda for the tourism sector guided by a set of very concrete objectives: to place new technologies at the service of sustainable growth, foster innovation and promote inclusive economic and social development.

The framework agreement between the two organisations has been signed in Madrid by Jaime Cabal, Deputy Secretary-General of UNWTO, and by Eduardo Navarro, Director of Communication, Corporate Affairs, Branding and Sustainability of Telefónica S.A.

During the signing, Cabal said that “innovation and digital transformation are among the priorities of UNWTO in order to provide additional impetus to tourism as an ally of sustainable development.” He added, “Together with Telefónica we can help our more than 160 Member States build their tourism innovation ecosystems and create digital tools that facilitate more efficient decision-making thanks to the use of Big Data, artificial intelligence and many other advances.”

For his part, Eduardo Navarro stressed that “this framework agreement is very important because the technologies are drawing the future of travel and tourism. Virtual and augmented reality, Big Data, cognitive intelligence and the Internet of Things will be a fundamental part of the tourist experience and Telefónica is a very important player in the provision of these services. The fibre networks deployed by Telefónica will also be decisive in making this a reality that will have an impact on the experience of users and on the services provided by the different players in the sector.”