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Digital Transformation in Tourism: Evolving Travel with Technology

27th September is renowned as World Tourism Day (WTD)! Ever thought why only 27th? Rewind to the basics and you’ll need to know the reason behind The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) bringing WTD to reality in 1980. This was done to commemorate the date, 27th September 1970 when the statutes of the UNWTO were established. This marked the annual celebration of an industry that has bloomed the human curiosity of exploration to a fastest growing economy. Tourism industry contributes to multiple economies at the same time and trades on bringing to reality the happiness and dreams of people. It impacts communities, societies and world growth as a whole. It promotes development and preservation of culture and heritage at the same time. Importance of such an impactful industry was foreseen when UNWTO launched World Tourism Day. Annually a particular theme is handpicked and focussed on, depending on the various aspects of tourism which are growing and influencing the particular era. Most of the times it is observed that these themes also focus on values that can be future goals to be worked upon.

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This year saw the future of the new age; technology. Tourism and the Digital Transformation is this year’s theme that is formed in a motive to help to create opportunities for tourism, by technological advances including big data, artificial intelligence and digital platforms, on the map of sustainable development. As per UNWTO, ‘The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) sees digital advances and innovation as part of the solution to the challenge of marrying continued growth with a more sustainable and responsible tourism sector.’ The Secretary-General of UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili, said, “Harnessing innovation and digital advances provide tourism with opportunities to improve inclusiveness, local community empowerment and efficient resource management, amongst other objectives within the wider sustainable development agenda.” The official celebration of World Tourism Day 2018 was held in Budapest, Hungary.

 

Key Highlights of the Budapest Event straight from UNWTO:

  • The most iconic highlight of 2018 WTD was the start-up competition held for the first time in the history. As per UNWTO, the aim of this completion was to be the driving force for tourism start-ups to scale-up operations and grow internationally by providing the needed platform for the most disruptive innovators in tourism to connect with the world’s top global investors and supporting business partners. Following the global call for start-up applications, the 20 most disruptive finalists will pitch their idea to a jury of tourism leaders, including top global investors.
  • Efforts to spread in-depth awareness of the ideology of the theme by focussing on the role of technology in sustainable tourism. There was a session arranged which was planned to explore how big data, digital platforms, artificial intelligence and other technological systems are facilitating the implementation of products, services and processes that ultimately contribute tourism’s transformation into a more sustainable sector. These technologies help organizations and destinations gain valuable insights into modern tech-savvy tourists to make the tourism sector smarter, more competitive and more sustainable. The panel of tourism leaders explored the challenges and opportunities that technology presents for sustainable tourism.
  • One of the most interesting highlights was the one which shed some light on tourism with technology and music! As per UNWTO, Increasingly, music tourism is the main reason for travel, as seen by the growing number of music festivals of all genres in both big cities and rural areas. These events attract an international audience, through social media and other online platforms and make it easier than ever to find events and festivals by region, genre and artist as well as for the organizers to better understand their target audience through data analytics, not only to the events but also to the destination. This session aimed to highlight the incredible opportunity for tourism, technology and music present for destinations.
*Information Source: UNWTO*

 

Summary for Everyone Who Associates With Travel:

1. World at your fingertips

With growing technology, the world is now available at your fingertips. Right from accommodation to transportation, everything can be booked before you even step on another land. All the provisions needed can be arranged with the help of technology. Information is so readily available, unlike in the past where finding and knowing about destinations was all segregated in books and mostly unknown. Technology has brought everything in one place and gave its access to everybody.

 

2. No more wrong turns

Google maps have changed the idea of finding new roads. It can be accessed from anywhere to go anywhere. This has made every destination easy to travel to. Even when people choose self-drive, they can find their own roads without any hassle. There are no more wrong turns or lost roads. These maps are also available offline which can be downloaded before setting out for the trip.

 

3. Translate – Convey – Connect

Exploring different cultures never became so easy. Language is one of the most important elements of communications. Most countries do not speak the same languages as the individuals. When in the previous eras this used to be the hurdle and something harder to cope with, the technology of this era has made it a matter of seconds. Different apps can translate your preferred language to any local language instantly. Thereby, it has erased the fear and uncertainty of communicating with the locals of any country.

 

4. Pick your local ride

Nowadays, choosing the way one wants to travel a particular country or destination can be done faster than ever. From booking a self-drive car to coaches, everything is made possible online. All the necessary information about requirements and choices are available in one place and people can explore what they prefer the most. Technology has given the freedom of not relying on last-minute finds and not compromising on choices.

 

5. Your comfort your way

Not compromising on choices bring us to this point where every traveller can choose his or her own idea of comfort and choose everything possible in a way that suits him/her the best. The easy availability of options and varied costs that match budgets of almost every type of traveller has eased the whole hustle of travel into something that is very smooth and customised. These tailor-made options have personalised options for every traveller, which indeed added so much more to every experience.

 

6. Travel with buddies

One of the most interesting benefits that technology is giving a traveller is that it is bringing the travellers around the world closer. Now people can choose travellers that they want to travel with. Giving so many more chances to create new connections with likeminded people from their own country or across the globe. Some also prefer to travel with locals to make their experience more authentic and classic. This benefit of technology has brought a new trend into the travel industry.

 

7. Secure your journey

Previously losing your luggage or any of your valuable items was something like a terrible misfortune and something that cannot be helped with. With technology, now every traveller can track all his belongings, right from his baggage to gadgets. Losing your valuables as you travel in destinations, flights and transportation, has become less of a worry. Everything is being secured and tracked. The travel insurances cover and secure the loss too. Technology has made this stress lighter too.

 

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Did you know?

Kerala Tourism is a pioneer in technology as it is known to be the first in India to take actions in the terms of digital transformation. They’re looking forward to advancing their digital techniques with the help of data collections, artificial intelligence and social media. This is not only a strong step to ace the game of tourism again after the floods but also an exceptional head-start on this year’s WTD theme.


 

WTD & Veena World

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On the occasion of World Tourism Day, Veena World celebrated various aspects of tourism. Cultures, concepts, new ideas, traditions and destinations were all recreated to cherish the love of travel. All teams participated to depict their favourite version of tourism concepts. Some created a cultural experience by flaunting traditions and displaying the endless potential of tourism in their favourite destinations such as Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and the far-off Caribbean Islands. The decorations and minute detailing of these places revived the spirit and travel appeal of these destinations. Some explored interesting concepts like space tourism, spa and wellness tourism and festival tours. The teams recreated the depiction of their ideas on this concept and created a whole new ambience. Some teams explore in-depth ideologies of the theme of travel with technology by portraying the concepts over 7 continents and pointing the brighter future to endless possibilities. One of our teams even recreated the complete airport experience right in the corporate office! The enthusiasm of the teams was seen and their responsible involvement was noted when they focussed on the motto of creating the best out of waste to support the ideology of sustainability. This was seen as one of the most interesting ways that the teams got connected to their work by creating passion and enthusiasm in all the individuals who are contributing to shaping tourism in their own way.

 

After this incredible year of tourism, this year’s WTD celebration had a lot to learn from. We as individuals who contribute to travel by either being travellers or being the ones who belong to the industry, hold the responsibility to understand the importance of sustainability and awareness about the environment. As we walk into the future of tourism with little advancements made every day, we need to acknowledge the grand scope of growth in tourism with digital transformation by being responsible contributors. Let’s walk into the future of travel as we create it together, sustainably and responsibly.

 

#WTD2018 #UNWTO #TRAVELWITHTECHNOLOGY

*Veena World Photos by Sailee Gorivale

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