World Tourism Day – 27 September

As you may know, today is World Tourism Day. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has been celebrating this day since 1980 to remind people of the current economic and socio-cultural contributions and the future opportunities of the sector, but also to emphasise the need to ensure tourism is developed in a sustainable manner. This year, World Tourism Day aims to raise awareness of the role digital technologies can play in sustainable tourism development. The specific focus is on the possibilities of innovation and smart technologies for the sector.

There is substantial opportunity for new technologies to benefit the tourism sector in Western Australia. New technologies can facilitate the participation of local microenterprises in tourism and aid marketing of remote locations as digital closeness may help overcome barriers of physical distance. New technologies also play a critical role in harnessing the potential of new markets in Asia: Many of these countries have a high affinity with technology-driven innovations, which also influences their expectations while on vacation. Many visitors from Asia and beyond want to digitally capture and share (live) their experiences with their peers at home. Thereby, co-creation and co-marketing are becoming tangible realities. Last but not least, new technologies can play a role in better monitoring impacts of tourism to ensure that quality is given priority over quantity and we truly achieve sustainable tourism objectives.

However, a smart use of technologies also means understanding that technologies can never be a substitute for direct, meaningful and respectful human to human interactions. Encounters between people will remain the key component of sustainable tourism development, whatever markets are targeted specifically. Thus, smart use of technologies means making use of technologies in a manner that facilitates reciprocal respect and understanding between hosts and guests and fosters an understanding of the beauty of differences, which as ‘authenticity’ and ‘uniqueness’ ultimately form the key components of memorable tourism experiences.