«LEGAL NOTICE This report has been produced as part of the TOURISMlink project (funded by the European Commission DG Enterprise ...»
The European Tourism Market,
its structure and the role of ICTs
The European Tourism Market,
its structure and the role of ICTs
Report for Work Package 1
This report has been produced as part of the TOURISMlink project (www.tourismlink.eu)
funded by the European Commission DG Enterprise and Industry. The contents of this
publication do not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of the European Commission.
Rodolfo Baggio (Bocconi University, Milan, Italy)
Sonia Bilbao (Tecnalia Research and Innovation, Bilbao, Spain) Xema Carbó (Dome Consulting, Palma de Mallorca, Spain) Paolina Marone (ECTAA, European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association, Brussels, Belgium) Patricia Miralles (Instituto Technologico Hotelero, Madrid, Spain) Sofía Reino (CICTOURGUNE, Centre for Cooperative Research in Tourism, Bilbao, Spain) Isabel Sobrino (HOTREC, The umbrella association of Hotels, Restaurants and Cafés in Europe, Brussels, Belgium)
Citation for this document:
TOURISMlink (2012). The European Tourism Market, its structure and the role of ICTs.
Brussels: The TOURISMlink Consortium. Available online at: www.tourismlink.eu.
Executive summary Tourism is a key sector of the European economy. It generates more than 5% of the EU GDP, with about 1,8 million enterprises employing around 5,2% of the total labor force. It comprises a wide variety of products and destinations involving many different stakeholders, both public and private. The tourism industry has been increasingly becoming an informationbased industry, and is particularly relying on technology supporting information and communication (ICTs). As a consequence, the eTourism market is continuing to grow and represents already an important component in the global tourism market, counting, in Europe, for around 36% of all sales in the travel industry.
Modern technologies, however, pose significant challenges to tourism businesses seeking to embrace them. The lack of agreed technical standards, together with high implementation costs (in terms of monetary and human resources), represents a barrier for the adoption of these instruments, in particular by small enterprises.
TOURISMlink (a project financed by the DG Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission) is a large-scale demonstration action with the objective to modernize the tourism value chain and offer small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the tourism sector a better position in the global tourism market. Its goal is to facilitate and accelerate the digital connection between smaller local service providers in the broader tourism industry (hospitality, tourism, culture and leisure), and with larger travel agents, tour operators and distributors.
This will allow tourism enterprises to improve their competitiveness and respond better and quicker to the evolving market needs of more tailor-made, personalized tourism products.
This report analyzes and presents an updated analysis the European Tourism market and its structure, with the aim of identifying the needs of the sector and of showing to which extent the EU is moving towards new markets or segments and the influence that this may have when considering new ICT tools. Special attention will be given to the adoption of information and communication technology by tourism enterprises and the current use of ICT along the whole value chains, consolidating the industry’s requirements unveiled by literature studies and through a survey conducted in the field. It highlights the main competitiveness factors and the role of ICTs in responding to change in tourism demand, and as a driver for growth. The elements and issues discussed in the report form the basis for the next activities in the TOURISMlink project.
A number of crucial factors have been identified:
European tourism SMEs face a strong competition. For them it is important to differentiate their products from the large industry players by concentrating on niches and creating offers with a specific value to the customer. In this context good cooperation between tourism operators becomes crucial. ICTs can play a key role in building trustworthy and reliable relationships among business partners and in providing them with flexible and dynamic tools to cope with the highly dynamic market challenges.
Despite the relevance of ICTs for the whole industry, there is still a low level of adoption, mainly due to the characteristics of the European tourism enterprises and their limited size.
Confirming and extending many studies on the issue, a field survey conducted specifically for this project has acknowledged the main barriers in ICTs adoption by tourism SMEs highlighting in particular: the implementation costs (both monetary & organizational); the difficulties faced in fostering collaboration and cooperation within the industry; the problems encountered in achieving a good interoperability of the ICT systems in-company and between-companies and the substantial lack of agreed technical standards for data representation and exchange.
Standards in ICTs have become an indefeasible element for companies that want to take advantage from modern eTourism technologies by fostering technological interoperability. Nonetheless, nowadays there exist too many conflicting approaches, deployment costs can be very high, and there is a certain lack of flexibility for many solutions. Interoperable standardized systems are considered a crucial element also due to the strong tendency of tourists and travelers towards a request for immediate answers to their changing wishes or needs, and their high level of device indifference that is more and more evident when considering the growing usage patterns of mobile and wireless devices for accessing the Internet for searching information, book travels or compose personalized packages.
The report closes with a description of the changes and implementations that will be made to an existing technological platform (Travel Open Apps) to integrate the findings of this study (from a functional point of view), and presents a preliminary sketch of possible business usage scenarios along with some initial considerations on possible advantages, issues and criticalities (SWOT analysis).
Table of contents
1.1 Objective and structure of the report
2 European tourism
2.1 Tourism demand for Europe
2.1.1 Europe and Emerging Markets
2.2 European Tourism supply structure
2.2.1 Focus: tourism SMEs companies
2.2.2 Focus on rural accommodation
2.2.3 Focus on the European transportation system
2.3 Remarks on the structure of European tourism and its competitiveness................ 33 2.3.1 A reflection on competitiveness
3 ICTs and the European tourism players
3.1 ICTs adoption
3.1.1 Focus: ICTs adoption in three countries
3.2 ICT infrastructure in Europe
3.3 European eTourism market
3.4 Global distribution systems
3.5 ICTs in the transportation sector
3.6 Main barriers for ICTs adoption
3.6.1 A survey on ICT adoption issues in EU
4 Interoperability and standards in eTourism
4.1 eBusiness standards for SMEs
4.1.1 Web Services Standards
4.2 Data Organization
4.2.1 Ontologies/ Relational Databases
4.3.1 Interoperability Levels
4.3.2 Why Interoperability?
4.3.3 Approaches towards ICT Interoperability
4.3.4 Barriers or difficulties to interoperability
4.3.5 Existing specifications for interoperability
4.3.6 Application program interfaces in the tourism sector
4.3.7 Cloud computing
4.4 Remarks on tourism standards and interoperability
5 A business scenario for the TOURISMlink platform
5.1 Travel Open Apps
5.2 Success factors
5.3 Technical aspects
5.3.3 SaaS (Software as a Service)
5.3.4 SOA Architecture design
5.3.5 Business and market aspects
5.3.6 Managerial aspects
5.3.7 Usability factors
5.3.8 Usefulness factors
5.3.9 Data security
5.4 The overall scenario: a schematic view
5.4.1 A preliminary SWOT analysis
6 Appendix: Survey questionnaire
Figures Figure 2.1 International tourist arrivals (Source: UNWTO, 2011)
Figure 2.2 Evolution of international tourism market share (Source: UNWTO, 2011).
........... 13 Figure 2.3 International tourist arrivals variations 2006-2009 (Source: UNWTO, 2011)........ 14 Figure 2.4 Origin areas for European tourism (Source: EUROSTAT, 2009)
Figure 2.5 Variations in overnight stays shares for selected countries (NB: scale for China is on the right; Source: EUROSTAT, 2009)
Figure 2.6 Variations in overnight stays for selected countries (Source: EUROSTAT, 2009).
.. 16 Figure 2.7 Average seasonality in Europe (Source: EUROSTAT, 2009)
Figure 2.8 European tourism subsectors (Source: EUROSTAT, 2009)
Figure 2.9 Distribution of accommodation sector by company size (Source: EUROSTAT, 2009)
Figure 2.10 Room share of integrated hotel chains (Source: Sistema Turismo Italia, 2011).
.. 26 Figure 2.11 Distribution of hotel chains in Italy, Austria and Germany (Source: adapted form various industry sources, 2011)
Figure 2.12 : Distribution of travel agent and tour operator by company size (Source:
Figure 2.13 Main means of transport for European tourists (Source Eurostat, 2008).
........... 32 Figure 2.14 Low-cost airlines growth (Source: OAG Aviation, 2012)
Figure 2.15 Cruise market growth (Source: European Cruise Council, 2012)
Figure 2.16 Tourism destination competitiveness factors in the model by Ritchie and Crouch (2003)
Figure 2.17 Relationship between ICT infrastructure (left) and level of usage of ICTs in business (right) and the Tourism Competitiveness Index (Source: WEF, 2011).
............... 36 Figure 3.1 The EU27 ICT readiness index compared with that of the most advanced economies (ADV) (Source; World Economic Forum, 2012)
Figure 3.2 The difference (%) between EU27 ICT readiness index and that of the most advanced economies (ADV) (Source; World Economic Forum, 2012)
Figure 3.3 ICTs adoption by European SMEs: % of enterprises using online selling applications (Source: EUROSTAT, 2011)
Figure 3.4 ICTs adoption by European SMEs: % of turnover generated by using online applications (Source: EUROSTAT, 2011)
Figure 3.5 ICT Adoption by the Irish Tourism Industry
Figure 3.6 Usage of promotional channels in Italian hotels (Source: ISTAT, 2009).
.............. 45 Figure 3.7 Web 2.
0 functions used by Italian tourism industry websites (Source: MET Bocconi, 2012)
Figure 3.8 Broadband Penetration in Europe and OECD (Source: Eurostat and OECD, 2011).
47 Figure 3.9 Cost of Broadband connections
Figure 3.10 History and trend of the eTourism market in different regions (Source:
Figure 3.11 European eTourism market shares by country (Source: PhoCusWright, 2011).
... 49 Figure 3.12 eTourism market shares by type of company (Source: PhoCusWright, 2011)..... 49 Figure 3.13 Top five European OTAS’ market share (Source: PhoCusWright, 2011).............. 50 Figure 3.14 OTA market positions in Europe (Source: PhoCusWright, 2011)
Figure 3.15 Main GDSs (Source: ETTSA, 2010)
Figure 3.16 GDSs share of global European travel market (Source: ETTSA, 2010).
.............. 52 Figure 3.17 GDSs contribution to tourism intermediaries activities
Figure 4.1 Interoperability levels
Figure 4.2 Approaches towards ICT Interoperability (Gasser and Palfrey, 2007).
................. 67 Figure 5.1 General scheme for the use of TOURISMlink/Travel Open Apps platform by participating companies
Figure 5.2 Business scenario for the use of TOURISMlink/Travel Open Apps platform.
.......... 88 Figure 5.3 A preliminary SWOT analysis for TOURISMlink
Table 2.1 Number of enterprises by subsectors (Source: Eurostat, 2009)
Table 2.2 Number of persons employed by subsectors (Source: Eurostat, 2009).
................ 21 Table 2.3 Turnover by subsectors (Source: Eurostat, 2009)
Table 3.1 ICT Adoption in Spanish Hotels (Source: Fundetec, 2009)
Table 3.2 Adoption of technologies in the Italian SMEs and in the hotel sector (Source: ISTAT, 2009)
Table 3.3 Ownership of website used for marketing or sales activities by Italian hotels (Source:
Table 3.4 Issues and priorities for ICT adoption by tourism SMEs
Table 4.1 Standards Related to Web Service Standards
Table 4.2 Main tourism ontologies
Table 4.3 Data Standardisation Initiatives
Table 4.4 Main Tourism Interoperability Solutions
Table 4.5 APIs used by main online tourism operators
Table 4.6 Cloud computing software - General information
This report analyzes the European Tourism market and its structure, with the aim of identifying the needs of the sector and of showing to which extent the EU is moving towards new markets or segments ant the influence that this may have on new ICT instruments.
Therefore special attention will be given to the adoption of information and communication technology by tourism enterprises and the current use of ICT along the whole value chains.
The document is the first work package of the TOURISMlink project and will underpin all subsequent tasks in the project by better defining the issues to be addressed.