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It’s no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has created a before and after in modern history. It has caused great economic and, above all, human loss. However, if humanity has learned anything in recent decades, it’s that science and technology are two ideal tools, I would even dare to say essential tools, to help get us out of situations like this. Today, however, let’s focus on technology. Let’s apply it to a sector as vital as tourism.

Is it exaggerated to say that technology has become the great ally for economic recovery? Not at all, in fact, this is the reality. We can say that technology is being the true driving force behind the highly anticipated economic recovery, a recovery that will take time to reach areas with high dependence on tourism that, logically, have been heavily affected by the pandemic.

We can state that technology has kept the world from coming to a stop, and that the digital revolution has become a necessity that has taken giant leaps to do, in just a few months, what could have taken years. Or decades.

Putting the focus on people

But what is the secret so that this technology isn’t just an aid but a catalyst for this economic recovery and digital transformation? It’s easy: put the focus on people. This is something that must be done by both Public Administrations and the private sector, focusing first on evident modernisation with paperless administrations, electronic contracts and digital trust, among others. Because without a doubt, now is the best time in the last 20 years to take this step forward towards the modernisation of the public sector.

But let’s not forget that the private sector must clearly focus on a technology that is the genuine driving force boosting its economy. At Altia, in the next ten years we anticipate extraordinary changes, fusions and greater importance of the digital economy, with new business models based on technology, a clear focus on innovation, cybersecurity and the cloud, and information technology that is agile and in continuous evolution. Because the companies must adapt to a reality that is continuously, and at increasing speed, changing.

Digitalisation of systems

Now, let’s get back to the scope of tourism. What can technology do for it? How can it accompany the Public Administrations or companies through this path towards economic recovery? It can, and must, do a thousand things. There are already solutions on the market that allow for digitalisation of systems that imply interaction and digital signature by people (customers), in cases such as check-in/out, currency exchange, safes, towel hire, reservations of spas, parking, food or hotels, just to give a few examples.

But there is much more, such as contactless solutions, which are increasingly popular, in the form of NFC bracelets or mobile apps with generation of QR codes that optimise processes that are of vital importance to the tourism sector, such as customer identification, control of presence inside the hotel, automatic opening of doors or management of hotel access authorisations, invoice queries or booking new services.

What can we say about the automation of reservations through cloud platforms for tour operators who communicate reservations via email or web? All of this technology is proving to be a true revolution. And the best is yet to come.

These are just some examples that show how technology can and must be a great catalyst for the change that the tourism sector will undoubtedly go through in the coming years. If this is successful, tourism will continue to be, as it has been up to now, a driving force behind the Spanish economy.

Until now, perhaps technology had never been a true catalyst for tourism.

 Alberto LoureiroAssociate Director of Altia.