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Tourism needs to ride the innovation wave

  • Publisert 24.10.2011
To remain competitive and vital on an increasingly competitive global arena, tourism companies need to implement an innovative thinking and create new value capture opportunities.

- Tourism needs to include a horizontal approach of innovation in order to leverage market driven innovation in the European tourism industry, said Petra Nilsson-Andersen, Senior Innovation Adviser at Nordic Innovation, when participating in a session debate at the Preserve Final Conference in Siena, Italy.


The main goal of the conference was to explore ideas, problems and solutions related to innovation and sustainability in the European tourism industry, as well as to provide best practices for other regions to learn from. 


Michèle Sabban, President at the Assembly of European Regions (AER), underlined that tourism plays an important role in Europe, creating jobs to 9.7 million Europeans. But the future growth of the industry cannot be taken for granted.  Facing international challenges, tourism must adapt to the ongoing changes. The competitiveness of the European tourism sector depends on the development and improvement of its performance through innovation. Or in other words: Tourism needs to embrace the principles of innovation and innovative thinking to remain a competitive, vital and dynamic sector.


- Old, conservative thinking in the tourism and service sectors needs to go through a dramatical change. Innovation is a prerequisite for developing new market driven concepts of tourism, Petra Nilsson-Andersen said.



Strategical thinking 


Strategic innovation management was particularly addressed at the session debate, and Nilsson-Andersen gave a thematic presentation of the programme Business Model Innovation in the Tourism and Experience Industry, which is a groundbreaking project on green innovation, initiated by Nordic Innovation in cooperation with OECD and the Kellogg School of Management. 


At the conference the major outcomes of the Preserve project was also presented, aiming at improving the effectiveness of regional tourism development policies and supporting sustainable tourism.


Preserve (Peer Reviews for Sustainable Eco-Regions Via Europe) is an initiative under AER, which is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe. Bringing more than 270 regions from 33 countries and 13 interregional organizations together, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation.


The other participants in the session debate were Florian Sengstschmid, CEO at European Development & Solutions (EUDS), Karen Craib, Project Manager Tourism Innovation at Scottish Enterprise, Sonia Pallai, responsible for Tourism at Confesercenti Siena and Charles Etienne Bélanger, Director at International Social Tourism Organisation (ISTO). The moderator was Mariejose Zondag from Ecorys.