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TIS 2023: Travel Revolution Takes Off

Exclusive interview with: Tourism Innovation Summit 2023 Silvia Avilés, Event Director by Mandy Clarke

TIS – Tourism Innovation Summit with A World for Travel 2023 from October 18-20 in Seville.

What can attendees expect to see when attending TIS 2022?

In four years, TIS – Tourism Innovation Summit has consolidated itself as the leading event on innovation and technology for the travel and tourism industry. More than 7,000 C-Level executives are gathering in Seville, Spain, between October 18 to 20 to meet their peers and share experiences and ideas and discuss about challenges that the industry is facing while learning about the main trends that will shape the future of tourism.

Now that all markets are open to tourism, the industry faces a new era in which technology, digitalization and new consumer habits are defining the way we travel. TIS is a unique opportunity to discover innovative solutions and create strategic partnerships to transform travellers’ experiences according to these new demands. In its new edition, TIS will provide high-level conferences from more than 400 international speakers, disruptive tech solutions showcased by 200 exhibiting firms and a full agenda of networking activities.

What are the highlights of the summit and what are you most excited for?

This year, our claim is “Travel Revolution Takes Off” and that is because the industry is facing a revolutionary moment after the pandemic in which all tourism businesses and destinations are embracing digitalization and new technologies to offer even better and more personalized experiences to travellers. Also, TIS itself presents a revolution it is growing, with a renewed edition with 10,000 sqm of exhibition area and leading experts worldwide to define strategies and the roadmap for the upcoming years.

Moreover, this year TIS crosses the Atlantic with Mexico as Destination Partner of this new edition. Tourism public representatives from Mexico and leading tourism businesses will share at TIS2023 their strategies to boost a smarter, more innovative and sustainable tourism. Also, attendees will have the opportunity to learn in detail about the current and future expectations of this destination, which is facing major challenges in terms of sustainability and infrastructure.

Besides, TIS2023 will host the new edition of A World for Travel as a co-located event. After being celebrated in Évora (Portugal) and Nimes (France), AWFT comes to Seville to present new initiatives to boost sustainable and responsive tourism around the world.

Who will be exhibiting at TIS2022?

This year we are moving a brand-new pavilion with 10,000 square meters of exhibition area. More than 200 firms will showcase their latest tech solutions and innovations in key areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud, cybersecurity, chatgpt, business intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, web 3.0, channel managers, hotel tech, big data & analytics, marketing automation, GIS, contactless technology or predictive analytics, among others. To mention some of them, I would like to highlight the participation of firms such as Accenture, Amadeus, City Sightseeing Worldwide, Eurecat, Mabrian, Telefónica, CaixaBank, Google Cloud, T-Systems, PastView, Turijobs, UnBlock and Why Tenerife.

In addition to more than 400 industry leaders speaking at the Tourism Innovation Global Summit such as Bernardo Cueto, Tourism Secretary of Quintana Roo (México); Céline Cousteau, documentary filmmaker and environmental activist, who will share her vision on sustainability and the adoption of best practices in the tourism sector; Alfonso Vegara, PhD in Urban and Regional Planning, who will address the industry’s challenge of integrating urban solutions into development and daily operations; Jenny Southan, founder and CEO of Globetrender; Carmen Bustos, who was included in the Forbes List of the 100 more creative people in 2023; Tuija Seipell, expert on customer experience; Eduardo Santander, CEO of the European Travel Commission, among many other.

International tourism has regained a remarkable amount of momentum in 2023 but what (if any) hurdles remain?

The latest data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reveals a strong industry in 2023. For example, twice as many people traveled in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same period last year. Internationally, there has been a remarkable recovery, but there are regional differences. In Europe, we are already at 90% of pre-pandemic levels, while in Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific we are at 88%, 85% and 54%, respectively.

However, several factors need to be considered to understand the current situation and to think about the future of the sector. The most important of these are the impact of inflation on household budgets and the rise in oil prices, which increases transportation costs. The challenges that still need to be overcome stem from the issues we will be addressing at the Tourism Innovation Global Summit conference, particularly in terms of sustainability, social impact and adapting to an increasingly digital and demanding traveler. 

What are the top trends driving tourism in 2023? 

The industry is experiencing a significant change in many aspects. On one hand, the pandemic forced the sector to accelerate its digital transformation. Also, the traveller has changed and now he/she is better-informed, more conscious about the impact of travels in the environment and local communities, and more empowered.

In this situation, the industry must use new technologies to create more personalized experiences for its clients and to improve its competitiveness. To address these challenges, the Tourism Innovation Global Summit conference will gather more than 400 tourism leaders who will share their vision, expertise and insights in these new trends that are driving tourism nowadays.

What do you think the global tourism industry needs to focus on for the next 12 months? 

Today, the tourism sector faces important challenges that affect many industries, such as digital transformation and sustainability. Two challenges closely linked to changes in consumer behavior. Travelers are changing their travel patterns and preferences; they are now looking for more authentic and personalized experiences. In addition, awareness of the environmental impact of tourism is growing and travelers are increasingly looking for more sustainable options.

On the other hand, the acceleration of digitization has also become critical in the travel industry. The adoption of emerging technologies enables tourism businesses to improve operational efficiency, deliver personalized experiences, and enhance communication and interaction with customers. Likewise, tourism development must be carried out in a sustainable, balanced and respectful manner with the local community and the environment, so the proper management of tourism destinations to preserve cultural heritage and the quality of life of local communities are important challenges today.

How will technology and AI change the global tourism industry, and how will they improve traveller experience?

The use Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions represent an opportunity for the industry, but also a challenge in terms of modernization and digitization. Our mission at TIS2023 is to address this topic holisticaly. AI is contributing to personalize travel experiences, optimizing hotel management, and improving safety in destinations and traveller’s satisfaction, among other tourism areas. In addition, other innovations that are impacting the industry and that we will also address at TIS2023 are cybersecurity, 5G, data analytics, virtual and augmented reality, geolocation, and web 3.0.

The travel and tourism industry must see digitalization and technology as an opportunity to optimize its processes, enable more efficient management channels and generate a competitive offer. 

How important is sustainability? 

In addition to technology, sustainability is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry today. This year, sustainability will be mainly addressed in the A World for Travel agenda, to boost the transformation of responsible and sustainable tourism around the world through intersecting governments, industries and suppliers who touch the traveller. Government officials, ministers of tourism, private sector captains of industry, NGOs, academics, experts and media will participate in discussions sharing groundbreaking initiatives envisioned as the industry looks ahead to shift towards the future. More than 80 special speakers will be associated with each of the 5 themes in these shifts: climatic, environmental, technological, economic and societal. Each will be tasked to deliver new insights, experiences, products and most critically, new ideas on leadership in sustainability.

In addition, sustainability will be a main topic in all conferences of the Tourism Innovation Global Summit and also in the Tourism Innovation Awards 2023 that will be given during TIS2023, recognizing the organizations that incorporate sustainability practices in their businesses and contribute to generating a positive impact of tourism.  

How important is accessibility?

The development and promotion of accessible tourism must be a commitment and vision shared by the entire sector. In Europe, the European Commission’s initiatives in this regard have been important, as well as the international guides to standards for tourism companies published by UNWTO, Fundación Once and the Spanish Association for Standardization (UNE), which have highlighted this need. But there is still a lot of work to be done. Especially when we consider that, according to the WHO, 16% of the world’s population has a significant disability.

This is an issue that has been on the TIS agenda in recent years, and one that we have always focused on, because it is not just about people’s rights, but also about the opportunity to develop businesses that allow everyone to enjoy experiences without any barriers. Technology, innovation, and new experiences for travelers must be designed from the beginning with a component of inclusion.

What does the future hold for the global tourism industry?

The tourism sector is transforming and this revolution in which it is immersed will lead us to a more intelligent, digital and sustainable tourism. Traveler demands have changed, and we must adapt tourism products and destinations to these new needs. Surely in a few years the tourism that predominated until recently, mass tourism and very seasonalized, will have evolved into a new tourism model that allows us to better preserve the environment and local communities. This must be our goal if we want to continue developing more sustainable, balanced and environmentally friendly tourism. And for this, technology and innovation are key.

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