The United Nations’ International Tourism Day is celebrated annually worldwide on September 27. Since its inception in 1980, the event aims to raise awareness of how tourism impacts sustainability, innovation, communities, and the economy.
This year, EU-Philippines Business Network, together with co-presentors such as the British Chamber of Commerce, CCI France Philippines, German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Italian Chamber of Commerce, Dutch Chamber of Commerce, and the La Camara Manila, held the much-awaited event at Dusit Thani, Makati, bannered under the theme Tourism and Digital Transformation.
As air travel is the main way of entry to the Philippines, improving airports and the technology (including accessibility and customer service) is crucial. At present, the country already has RFID bag tags, online and mobile check-ins, airport face recognition, e-tickets, and automatic gates. However, studies show that more and more passengers want better technologies and faster processing—which are still being developed but are especially necessary in high traffic airports.
Panel speaker Matt James, Senior Manager of Corporate Strategy and Business Development in Amadeus Asia Pacific went into detail about the impactful ways we can improve travel and tourism. Travel, it seems, can continue to outpace the global economy with the use of disruptive technologies such as biometrics, robotics, and voice, he said. Another Panel Speaker, Samuel David (Country Manager of the International Air Transport Association or IATA, added that the population and of the middle class in developing countries will double in the next 20 years. Hence, self-service technologies that allow passengers to check in, track their bags, and go through security will be in greater demand, he said.
Furthermore, Jack Tuason of Enderun Hospitality Management emphasized that many officers in the industry are wary or uninformed of the new technologies. He feels that the best way is to put millennials in a position to introduce fresh ideas and innovations. Not only are they more versed in the fast-paced growth of technologies, but they are also more involved, he said.
The main takeaway from the discussion? That technology has surely gone through leaps and bounds but the innovation to apply these advancements for the use of travel, transportation, and tourism is still on its way. Only by applying digitization, by acknowledging the areas for improvement, and by employing the younger generation can tourism move forward. Only then can we can look forward to a future where we only need one ID in airports, print baggage tags at home, have robotics guide us, and order travel tickets through voice commands.
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