The power of data is the power to obtain information that supports and improves decision-making. For European tourism stakeholders facing strategic and operational challenges amidst recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to make decisions based on reliable data has never been stronger. Besides, access to the right information could support tourism businesses in improving their competitive position within the global marketplace while fulfilling the obligations of the European Green Deal (European Green Deal).
While data are now everywhere, generated from diverse sources at unimaginable speed, they are often fragmented, in different formats, and often difficult to access when needed most. To harness the full potential of data, the European Commission has outlined the European Data Strategy (European Data Strategy), envisaging a single market where data flow across sectors within the EU for the benefit of society. Data Space for Tourism (DSFT) is only one part of this marketplace that shall enable all sector stakeholder groups (e.g., SMEs, governmental agencies, technology firms, and tourism entities at the national, regional, and local scales of operation) to share and access the data they require when they need it. Furthermore, DSFT shall also address the challenge of data interoperability, not only within tourism but throughout the EU and across sectors.
Within the next 12 months, Modul University Vienna, City Destinations Alliance, European Travel Commission and Forward Keys endeavour to design a roadmap that will guide the creation of the future Data Space for Tourism (DSFT). To achieve this ambitious goal, the consortium will create a Tourism Data Inventory (TDI) that provides an overview of available tourism data sources and platforms and enables the identification of gaps between the demand for and availability of data.
Throughout the initiative, multi-stakeholder governance mechanism, data-sharing business models and technical specifications will be put in place. Those will help to ensure the DSFT is adequately maintained, easy to use and that it can be fitted into the broader framework of European Data Space. For this reason, the consortium will collaborate closely with the EU Data Space Support Centre to ensure that the interoperability requirements of the DSFT are met. The project’s output will represent a detailed blueprint for the DSFT complemented by a roadmap for its deployment in line with national initiatives and the European Data Strategy.
The activities under this project will pave the way for the actual deployment of the DSFT. Providing increased access to information throughout the European tourism ecosystem will substantially increase productivity, sustainability, innovation, and upskilling within the tourism sector. The shared data space can be an excellent tool for combating the economic decline caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing the industry’s resilience in uncertain times.
Ideally, the DSFT will become a model for other sectors and lead to the eventual single market for data that increases the competitiveness of the EU and the overall quality of life for its citizens. There are also clear synergies with other EU projects, which would build upon access to the DSFT.
This project would also contribute to the long-term policy objectives of the European Green Deal. Priority will be given to technical solutions that are environmentally responsible and energy-efficient, such as cloud-to-edge systems. Furthermore, the DSFT will enable the attainment of Green Deal sustainability goals through distance monitoring of environmental indicators (e.g., air and water pollution).
This project will pave the way for the future deployment of the DSFT that will allow for increased access to data for all tourism sector stakeholders across the EU. By providing access to information throughout the European tourism ecosystem, there will be substantial increases in productivity, sustainability, innovation, and upskilling within the sector.
The DSFT shall become a great tool for increasing the resiliency of the tourism sector and the preparedness for future, unknown challenges. The consortium hopes to establish standards for data interoperability by providing the foundation for an open platform upon which to build state-of-the-art AI applications. Furthermore, environmentally responsible and energy-efficient technical solutions to support the attainment of the European Green Deal sustainability goals will be prioritised.
To reach these ambitious goals, the team set out four main objectives:
1. Create Tourism Data Inventory
Tourism Data Inventory will be an open-access tool for the tourism sector, showing what data are currently available, if they are maintained by governments and non-governmental agencies (i.e., open-access data and statistics) or by the private sector (e.g., transportation, accommodation, and telecommunication providers). Through TDI, the data will become easily accessible to key tourism stakeholders, including SMEs, which shall increase the competitiveness of European tourism by aligning providers with the expectations and wishes of their customers.
2. Establish Governance Mechanisms for the Future DSFT
DSFT cannot be successful if it is not based on clear, fair and sustainable, multi-stakeholder governance mechanisms and data sharing business models ensuring legal certainty. Through a participative approach, the consortium endeavours to better understand the needs and requirements of a broad base of stakeholders as well as to mitigate potential risks and uncertainties preventing especially private tourism stakeholders from sharing data.
3. Plan an Interoperable DSFT
DSFT will be a part of a wider European Data Strategy. For this reason, the consortium needs to develop technical solutions ensuring the interoperability of tourism-related data to foster a free flow of data within the EU and across sectors. In cooperation with the Data Spaces Support Centre (DSSC) and the Alliance for Industrial Data, Cloud, and Edge (AIDCE), the consortium will ensure that DSFT is compatible with EU-wide data environment. Additionally, all design recommendations for the DSFT will consider the data structure and quality necessary for future Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning applications.
4. Create the DSFT blueprint
All the previous goals will result in a detailed plan for the design and deployment of the DSFT, bringing together the tourism data set priorities, requisite technical specifications, governance models and business, ensuring that the various needs of the multiple stakeholders of tourism sector are met in practical, fair, and transparent fashion.
Project Work Packages
Creation and Analysis of the Tourism Data Inventory
Governance models for DSFT must align with the values of the EU and meet the needs of all relevant tourism stakeholders. The Consortium will thus undertake two qualitative data collections to understand how to best foster a “culture of data sharing in tourism” required for a sustainable DSFT.
Technical and Regulatory Specifications of DSFT
Providing technical specifications supporting data interoperability within and across sectors (both public and private) as well as specifications for content and metadata, building where applicable on existing domain-specific models for structured and semantic databases, are an integral part of this project.
DSFT Design Evaluation, Blueprint, and Roadmap
In the final participatory approach, the project team will once again engage with tourism stakeholders and evaluate DSFT design options, including technical specifications, data themes, business models, and governance models that have been previously identified, to arrive at the final recommendations for the DSFT roadmap that will be published as an open-access report.
First major part of the project shall be completed with the TDI published online
Focus group meetings and analysis of needs and wants of tourism stakeholders the shall be completed
Technical requirements and legal regulations for DSFT will be reviewed
Requirements for the DSFT will be finalised
Final design of the DSFT will be tested and evaluated
DSFT blueprint and roadmap for its implementation will be completed
Meet the Project Partners
ForwardKeys (FK) is the financial coordinator of the project, a leading data provider for the tourism industry which brings in technical expertise and knowledge in data analytics and information systems. FK is in partnership with numerous data holders and additionally provides immediate and direct access to the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) stakeholders to information such as insights relevant to shared tourism data space.
Modul University Vienna (MU), technical coordinator of the project is an international university for business and economics, with a strong research focus on international management, service-related industries, tourism, sustainability, data science, and the design of information systems. MU has a long tradition in tourism research utilizing advanced qualitative and quantitative methodologies and has established the TourMIS system, where all European national tourism organisations input data and exchange knowledge.
The European Travel Commission (ETC) represents the national tourism organisations of Europe. Established in 1948, ETC’s mission is to strengthen the sustainable development of Europe as a tourist destination and to promote Europe in third markets. Its 35-member tourism boards work together to build the value of tourism for all the diverse European destinations through cooperation in sharing best practice, market intelligence and promotion.
City Destinations Alliance (CityDNA) is a non-profit organisation improving the competitiveness and performance of the leading cities of Europe. CityDNA provides a platform for Leisure, Meetings Industry and City Marketing professionals to exchange knowledge, and best practices and widen their network to inspire, co-develop and promote a sustainable visitor economy for each member city.
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