On 13 September 2023, in Burgas, Bulgaria, the high-level event of DIGITOUR project themed “Boosting the Tourism Sector In Europe Through Digital Tools And Innovation took place in a hybrid format. “In the heart of digitalisation lies the spirit of collaboration”, concluded Antonio Novo Guerrero, president of cluster IDiA and member of the DIGITOUR consortium in the opening session. The overall objective of the event was to share the results and knowledge gained through the voucher 1 support scheme of the project, good practices and lessons learned, as well as to demonstrate the collaborations and projects created (voucher 2 support scheme of the project).
By organising this high-level event, the DIGITOUR Consortium aimed to emphasise the importance of the tourism industry and how transnational and cross-sectoral collaboration can help to find novel solutions for efficient and sustainable management, the development of new products and services (which are key to sustainability), and the marketing of tourism offers towards the needs of target customers.
The key message from Antonio Novo Guerrero, president of cluster IDiA and member of the DIGITOUR consortium from the opening session was: “In the heart of digitalisation lies the spirit of collaboration”. Participants of the DIGITOUR high-level event discussed the importance of the usage of AI chatbots in the hospitality sector and were given an example of best practice by Elitza Stoilova, the CEO of Umni, a company providing smart digital assistant solutions for hotels and accommodation providers to solve various challenges. Before the networking lunch, all participants were invited to ‘break the ice’ and approach each other, introducing themselves and learning more about the others.
The session ended with all attendees sharing their thoughts and the inspiring ideas gained throughout the conversations. Most of the participants highlighted the importance of finding a common language between digital product providers and tourism suppliers. The second half of the day started with the presentations of the DIGITOUR Voucher 2 beneficiaries, introducing their collaborative projects to the audience. Projects from Italy, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, France, Spain and Serbia were introduced in person and remotely.
The final panel discussion of the day was dedicated to sustainable solutions and models currently used in the tourism industry. The moderator, Gorazd Cad from Toleranza Marketing, Slovenia, shared his view on modern sustainability strategies and increasing cases of ‘greenwashing’ across the industry. He asked the audience: “To estimate tourism growth, should we measure tourist arrivals and overnight stays, or should we measure degrowth?”. At the end of his session, he also concluded: “Today, there were two clusters of words used throughout the sessions: 1) Innovation, digitalisation, sustainability, strategy and clusters and 2) Consortium, SMEs, EU Projects, tourism, tools and apps. The combination of these words fully describes the work behind not only the DIGITOUR project but also what stands behind collaboration and shared views”.
On site, there were 51 participants from the following countries: Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Czechia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Spain.
In addition, through online connection, the event was attended by representatives from Italy, Germany, and France. The total number of participants was 82, including online observers, speakers, and official
More details, documents and presentations shared during the event as well as the photo gallery could be found here.
DIGITOUR project (101038133)” is funded through the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA), entrusted by the European Commission, under the COSME Programme COS-TOURINN-2020-3-04.