The Malta Independent 3 June 2020, Wednesday

EU member states should collaborate more together in tourism sector - minister

Wednesday, 12 October 2016, 10:23 Last update: about 5 years ago

Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis said that tourism is highly impacted by dynamic and changing consumer trends, technological evolution and the ongoing emergence of new business models within the sector. 

Speaking at the 15th European Tourism Forum in Bratislava, he said that “in a bid to make the sector within Europe more sustainable and responsible, the many challenges emerging from the collaborative economy, competitiveness and the digital transformation clearly persist. And whilst we might all agree that opportunities presented by continued growth and deepening ‎diversification should be embraced and supported, measures should also be taken to guarantee a level playing field among all operators while further enhancing consumer protection."

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The Minister for Tourism emphasized that the EU needs to keep on top of all developments brought by the market itself, in order to maintain its tourism appeal, and to define the best business environment that will attract more investment which, in turn, attracts more tourists.

In a bid to support the accommodation sector and to curb irregularities, Minister Zammit Lewis suggested five initiatives of focus, namely:

·         Sound regulatory processes for new forms of tourist accommodation to ensure fair competition, as well as safety, security, consumer protection and compliance with taxation;

·         Firm commitment to curb unlicensed accommodation; 

·         Ensure sustainable growth of the accommodation sector by channelling growth into the areas where it is mostly needed.

·         Simplifying administrative and bureaucratic processes aimed at the development of new streams of tourism accommodation to diversify the use of certain buildings into viable and effective accommodation establishments.

·         Ensuring flexibility and adaptability in today’s rapidly evolving business environment by introducing practical interpretations of classification criteria, which enable establishments to operate in such an environment.

The Minister for Tourism also spoke about the Digital Transformation of the Tourism Sector, in which online networking has brought together hosts and guests on one digital marketplace, radically changing the relationship between the tourism industry and its customer base.

Dr Zammit Lewis noted that technology has now reduced transaction costs, making sharing assets cheaper and easier than ever – and therefore possible on a much larger and global scale. This phenomenon has been stimulated by a rise in entrepreneurship and an increased focus on the driving role of consumers who are looking always for an even higher degree of personalisation in the customer service they experience, said the Minister.

The Tourism Minister reaffirmed that tourists’ information search and decision-making processes are increasingly taking place online as extensive technological platforms have reshaped the landscape and distribution of tourism information for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe.

Dr Zammit Lewis said that “it is up to the respective governments and tourism authorities to enable an environment in line with the digitised world where any information is at one’s fingertips. More funding opportunities should be available in order to help the tourism industry reach the level expected from our customers”. He announced that the Ministry for Tourism is working towards a Digital Tourism Platform – a project to ensure that the basic needs of a tourist are addressed digitally through the creation of the necessary applications and installation of hardware such as interactive information kiosks in main tourist areas and the creation of mobile apps, amongst others. The Digital Tourism Platform enables tourism stakeholders to better mark their services whilst ensuring location based services and information to all users.

 

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