As anticipated in the article “Tourism 4.0: digitization, territory, sustainability”, a few days ago, the Minister Garavaglia outlined the road map of the work of his Dicastery, to give new oxygen to Italian tourismtaking into account the objectives of the PNRR and of the difficulties that the sector is going through due to the Pandemic, but above all, the need for a new vision and a new concept of tourism emerges strongly from his words, for a new interpretation of its organization and the need to use technology in an appropriate and effective way.
We will talk with technology, tourism and sustainability Pierpaolo FoderàCEO at Adamantic.
The PNRR, in relation to the tourism sector, highlights the importance of investments aimed at promoting an offer based on sustainability, innovation and enhancement of digitization for a real modernization of the sector. The proposals currently shared by Minister Garavaglia seem mainly oriented towards a major intervention and investment on the Italia.it portal, the digital hub of tourism, defined as the “system’s competitiveness tool”. Do you also think that the correct management of big data is the focal point on which to insist in order to start a restart of the tourism sector and the enhancement of cultural heritage?
Perhaps never as in this historical period do we witness the spread of so many different digital technologies, which promise real “revolutions” in all sectors, social and industrial. I refer, for example, to sensors connected on the web (IoT), to the management of big data, to deep learning and in general to the new frontier opened by the so-called “artificial intelligence”, up to the diffusion of registers distributed in networks of nodes called Blockchains. . We are witnessing the evolution of phenomena such as “Industry 4.0” and “WEB 3.0” which are consolidating new ways of interpreting and solving our needs. The tourism sector, above all, in our beautiful country, must necessarily make the most of each of these technologies and bring to maturity new services and new tools for proposing to the public. In my opinion, the management of big data represents a very important lever for the relaunch, but not the only one. Blockchain is already helping to innovate many processes, including in the tourism sector. There are already many ideas and I am convinced that the opportunity to relaunch the sector will be the springboard for new formulas for the use and dissemination of quality services.
Despite the immense potential that our territory offers to compose a major tourist offer, the sector suffers from delays and a lack of organization, but above all from the inability to innovate, to be sustainable and to consciously exploit what technology offers. What does it mean to use technology consciously and sustainably, enhancing the territory, the cultural heritage and therefore tourism?
Indeed, our country has less reactivity than others in understanding and experimenting with innovation. It is true, however, that many of the most interesting experiments on a global level continue to come from Italian startups and entrepreneurs, who, however, in many cases find greater advantage in taking their businesses abroad. In my personal opinion we suffer from a bit of “institutional inertia”. Before adopting a technology, phases of analysis and experimentation must be faced, which can accompany towards the “awareness” of productive use. This first phase represents an investment, but it is preparatory to obtaining the innovation objectives. It is precisely at this stage that, today, I notice the greatest difficulties in carrying out innovation in a conscious way. However, in consideration of thehuge potential of our tourism sector and the recent change of pace also on the part of the institutions, I foresee a next period of experimentation on the territory, at first, in a localized way and then gradually more and more pervasive. On the other hand, technology, today, is increasingly ready to respect promises of environmental sustainability, transparency and automation in quality services and it would be a shame not to immediately exploit its advantages in the tourism sector in which our country is, and must remain. , a true excellence.
Technologies, never as in tourism, can change and give meaning to the concept of experience, impacting on an emotional involvement and on the way of thinking and experiencing tourism. Is phygital the trend for 2022 in the tourism sector?
This is a topic that is currently very popular with “experts”. The extension of the experience through digital tools will lead to the twofold objective of increasing the level of offer “in presence” (eg: augmented reality physically available on the site) and to extend this offer also for “virtual visits”. ADAMANTIC has also already developed several projects in this direction, bringing innovation to the archaeological site of the City of Castro (Antica Castro Archaeological Park) and through some collaborations with the Ministry of Cultural Heritage (Digital Asset Management for the Palazzo Rivaldi site). It should also be noted the new trend of using Blockchain Tokens (the so-called NFTs) in order to make physical assets digital and unique. Also on this issue ADAMANTIC is active with the development of three NFT platforms. However, there are still few architects who embark on paths of true innovation, but they are undoubtedly growing. For 2022, I personally have forecasts of strong consolidation, which means increasing use of technology in “productive” contexts but also possible repercussions deriving from the real awareness of technological tools and their path of maturation. To give the quality of a “social trend” I would wait for the end of the current consolidation phase.
Can the Metaverse be considered the new frontier of tourism?
Without a shadow of a doubt, I believe, indeed, that it will find evolutionary paths in this sector that we cannot even imagine today. It is still a young technology, immature in some ways and not fully regulated due to its multiple possible uses on the market, but which is showing strong growth and certainly enormous interest in its potential. In this sense we can already see a profitable technological union with the Blockchain and in particular with certification and transparency tools in automation (Smart Contract) and in the certified digitization of assets (NFT, Not Fungible Token). Thanks to all this, in the near future, it may be possible to open a “virtual” archaeological site to a remote public and offer exclusive services connected perhaps to certified rewards in blockchain (coin), which can enable subsequent and “real” visits or additional services. perhaps putting in close relationship accommodation facilities and other tourist offers directly with archaeological destinations (and vice versa) for co-marketing activities. We are talking about scenarios yet to be discovered and tested, but potentially “revolutionary” for the tourism sector.
Blockchain and tourism, dichotomous relationship or union of purpose?
The Blockchain is a technological evolution that has only recently been gaining the limelight thanks to experiments that have been active for not many years. Its use in the tourism sector will certainly bring value in terms of extension and quality of the offer to the public, but as for the Metaverse, we do not yet have the complete picture of possible applications and future extensions. I see, today, the Blockchain very much in communion of intent with the tourism sector and in general with all those contexts that govern the “public thing”. I believe that everyone can share the importance of a transparent and efficient management of the national collective heritage which, today, represents a leading tourist offer throughout the world. Therefore, I frame the Blockchain as a remarkable tool, because it does not come from the interest of a party and is not aimed at the interest of a specific actor (which is very rare, or even non-existent to date). Finding the best interpretation of its use in producing transparent and efficient management of public assets can represent its perfect use. I imagine, therefore, a scenario in which Blockchain technology will be able to find the perfect use in the field of collective heritage management, including its management from a tourism point of view.
What can technology give to tourism and what can tourism give to technology?
The need to relaunch the sector will undoubtedly be a vehicle for new technological initiatives which, in turn, can increase public interest. Finding spaces for experimentation and application is, today, fundamental for technologies such as the Blockchain, which still have to “fully mature” to demonstrate their full potential. Therefore, putting new ideas and solutions to the test in a sector that could benefit so much, can bring exponential advantages to both parties. Today it is a question of igniting the initial spark of a process that certainly requires investment – and this is the greatest obstacle – but, once started, this technological evolution can only bring advantages in the specific sector of application. This is predictable in the first place thanks to the fact that Blockchain technology has already, in part, kept many of the initial promises in other application sectors and secondly because, in fact, the tourism sector in Italy has everything to gain from tools that can put all points of tourist interest in close synergy. One of the first advantages brought by the application of Blockchain technology could derive from theimplementation of tools, that allow transparent collaboration between different players in the tourism sector (eg archaeological sites with accommodation facilities or other sites), in order to equip themselves with a transparent and certified tool, which conveys the public towards the various offers. In Blockchain it is possible to bring out the certified quality of the various services; it is possible to manage an accounting token for any rewards connected, for example, to eco-sustainable behavior; it is possible to convey the sale of digital assets with settable rarity (NFTs representing prints, reproductions, merchandising or memorabilia).
The tourism sector, especially in Italy, needs to be open and receptive, it needs to network on the territory and equip itself with shared tools, which enhance its enormous potential in a democratic and transparent way. Nothing more responsive than a technology that makes these characteristics its mission.