UNWTO partners with Telefonica to drive sustainable tourism recovery

Published on : Friday, July 3, 2020

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recently strengthened its partnership with Spanish multinational telecommunications company Telefonica, in order to help destinations use Data and AI to drive sustainable recovery of the tourism sector. The collaboration comes in a time when tourism industry around the globe has started to reopen once again in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The partnership would contribute to advance market intelligence in order to accelerate tourism sector’s recovery from the harsh impact of the coronavirus pandemic.


As a part of its guidance to the tourism sector, UNWTO has often given priority to innovation as an important means of tourism recovery that can help the industry get back much stronger and better than earlier. The global organisation is also driving tourism’s movement towards sustainability as it currently has less than 10 years to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (“The Decade of Action”). The latest collaboration with Telefonica, which builds on an existing partnership, is designed to use digital transformations to support sustainable recovery and future growth of tourism.  


Telefonica and UNWTO have worked together to launch a series of visualization tools within the UNWTO Global Data Dashboard that allows for a better understanding of key performance indicators in tourism. At present the bodies will join hands to promote the effective use of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence across the tourism sector. This in turn, will help destinations understand tourist behaviour better as well as allow them to market their products more effectively. Management of data will also help destinations better manage tourist flows within the context of the new health and safety protocols being rolled out in response to COVID-19.


In order to mark the beginning of the new phase of collaboration, UNWTO joined Telefonica, Turismo de Portugal and the Tourism Authority of Buenos Aires and the Secretary of Tourism of Chile (SERNATUR) for a special virtual training session for destinations in the Americas. The training focused on exploring the ways in which the use of Big Data can add value to the tourism sector and lead recovery. Miguel Llopis, Industry Lead of Public Sector in IoT and Big Data, Telefonica said in a statement that tourism will return with force but the sector will have to face a structural transformation where new digital technologies, such as IoT and Big Data, will be a differential factor of competitive advantage.


Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General, UNWTO added that the digital transformation of tourism will allow the sector to grow back stronger from the standstill caused by COVID-19. He mentioned that as the leading body of tourism’s restart, UNWTO’s partnership with Telefonica will allow the organisation to provide essential tools required by the Member States and the tourism sector as a whole to accelerate recovery, build trust by guaranteeing safety and promote sustainability.


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