DIGITOUR aims to increase the competitiveness and resilience of tourism SMEs in Europe to cope with the new challenges of the tourism sector by upskilling their digital knowledge, boosting innovative sustainable ideas and solutions, and fostering cross-border and cross sectoral partnerships.
SMEs are the backbone of the tourism sector in Europe (representing 90% of enterprises in the sector) and, within this context, they play a crucial role in innovating and re-launch the sector. SMEs were hit the hardest by the Covid-19 outbreak, and currently are facing an acute liquidity crisis, with losses that have reached 85% for hotels and tour operators and travel agents (COM(2020) 550 final). To stay afloat and remain competitive in the coming years, SMEs need support to adapt to the new challenges and to find novel solutions for efficient and sustainable management, the development of new products and services is a key of sustainability and the marketing and promotion of their offer towards the needs of target customers. Digital tools and technologies could help SMEs in this endeavor; however, the level of skills and knowledge of such tools is not equally distributed among European SMEs and even within the tourism ecosystems. Tourism SMEs are very often family-run businesses, who find difficulties accessing digital tools and to innovate. Furthermore, the sector is complex and highly fragmented, with many different players (including off-line and online information and services providers, travel agents and tour operators, accommodation suppliers, destination managing organisations, visitor attractions and passenger transport activities). Cooperation among such actors is particularly challenging, especially for SMEs, as well as cooperation with other industries, such as that of the digital and technology ecosystem.
DIGITOUR project will support tourism SMEs through two types of vouchers, targeting different levels of digital maturity.
- The Up-skilling and Capacity Building Voucher is targeting individual SMEs willing to increase their skills and knowledge of digital tools and technologies to foster their competitiveness and scale-up. The aim is to improve digital skills and capacities of tourism SMEs and increase their knowledge of digital tools and technologies through training and individual advisory support.
- The Collaboration Innovation Voucher is targeting groups of SMEs wishing to cooperate on innovative projects at the national or transnational level. The aim is to boost innovative ideas for digital solutions by SMEs to improve their offer of products and services and their management, marketing, and promotion in novel and sustainable ways, adapting to the new challenges of the tourism sector, and to foster cross- sectoral and cross-border partnerships among tourism sector SMEs and stakeholders, and providers of innovative, digital, and smart solutions and new technologies. Through this voucher, transnational cooperative projects among SMEs will be encouraged.