The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have launched a joint report on the use of big data for better tourism planning and management.
According to UNWTO, the report features examples from across Asia and the Pacific region while also showcasing the main trends in the use of big data in tourism at the forefront of technology and innovation. The report also makes clear the role that big data can play in recovery and the measurement of the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of tourism.
UNWTO said tourism suffered the greatest crisis on record in 2020. International arrivals plunged by 73% in 2020. This is likely to follow by a 70% and 75% fall on 2019 levels for 2021. As the sector looks to recover, data and market intelligence are critical to empowering destinations, businesses, and tourism workers to be better prepared in a rapidly changing landscape. The COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated the shift toward digitalization and so further highlighted the need for relevant and reliable data and intelligence to manage tourism.
The joint UNWTO and ADB report will assist both governments and the private sector as they look to complement official statistics with big data so as to better understand changes in consumer behaviour and to enhance recovery with targeted products, segments, and source markets. Big data will also be key to supporting seamless travel through the implementation of safety protocols, biosecurity technologies, and digital health certificates to enable the safe reopening of borders.
UNWTO revealed that the report further addresses some of the key challenges standing in the way of fully realizing the potential of big data and digitalization for better tourism policy. These include ongoing concerns over privacy, skills gaps, data reliability, inadequate governance and infrastructure, the digital divide, accessibility barriers.
These challenges make clear the need for comprehensive agenda to pave the way for the effective use of big data to assist tourism recovery and its transformation toward a greener, more resilient sector. Together, UNWTO and ADB will work to ensure tourism policies across the region are aimed at establishing measurement, monitoring, and management systems and frameworks, thereby ensuring harmonized, comparable, and reliable data and indicators.