• The international ICT-Tourism cluster based in the Balearic Islands is working to consolidate itself as a decisive element where the private and public sectors can find support, with guarantees, to face the digital transformation processes that the pandemic has accelerated.

‘Special Tourism Recovery’ is this year’s slogan for Fitur. A different edition, late in its usual calendar, but full of intentions and expectations for the reactivation of a strategic sector for our economy. This year, the Madrid International Tourism Fair brings together more than 5,000 participants from the five continents, with the presence of all the Spanish autonomous regions and companies and destinations from 55 countries. It is 50% of the last fair, in order to guarantee Covid’s protection measures and to be able to hold the sector’s first major event in the pandemic.

The World Economic Forum has declared the Spanish tourism industry as the most competitive in the world and considers it ready for reactivation, so the importance of participating this year has been unquestionable for the International Cluster of Information and Communication Technologies applied to Tourism to which Dingus is associated, and which is chaired by our CEO, Jaume Monserrat. Turistec has been installed in Hall 10, in the Know-How & Export area, hoping to reposition the activity of the technology and tourism companies that it concentrates, as Monserrat himself explains:

It is a strange edition, as it is a mixture of the enormous desire to return to one of the main cluster activities in total freedom, that of networking or close and relaxed interpersonal relationships, and on the other hand the uncertainty that compromises any previous objective. Nevertheless, and given that the situation will limit the action of Turistec and its companies, we must highlight the commitment of our partners to recovery and the need to reach a situation of full normality as soon as possible. This is reflected in the fact that this is the year with more partners sponsoring our stand, with a total of 8 (GuestPro, QuoHotel, Pangeanic, Inetum, Dingus, Hotetec, Brújula and Tec-Soft Consulting), without all the obvious limitations being an obstacle.

The new mandate at the head of the cluster has started relatively recently (January 2021), at a particularly complicated time for everyone. What is Turistec’s assessment of the trajectory in recent years and the turning point that the pandemic has forced to set?

In the last 4 years we have seen how the re-foundation of Turistec as a private and transversal cluster, open to all companies with technology as a strategic derivative within the world of tourism, has brought unprecedented growth. To date, we have almost 80 members and more than 3 dozen public and private bodies and business organisations linked by collaboration agreements. In this sense, we can only make a positive balance, as the critical mass that Turistec now represents represents a workforce and a very significant impact on turnover, exceeding half a million workers and just over 47,000 million €. It also ensures a very high response in terms of innovative capacity and value generation.

However, the arrival of the pandemic made it necessary to accelerate the strategic planning foreseen for the following years, which had been designed to configure a third leg of services aimed at being a valuable innovation agent for the public and private sector. In a scenario of market closure, border closure, and an economic and social crisis unprecedented in our modern history, Turistec had to face (as all companies did) a crisis scenario where uncertainty forced it to review decisions and actions practically up to date. In January, without yet knowing what was awaiting us with only 60 days to go, Turistec renewed its board of directors with a clear objective: to reinforce the structural approach in the sense mentioned above, giving more decision-making capacity to tourism companies and expanding the companies that offer innovation consultancy in the executive committee itself. In addition, it is worth highlighting the entry into the advisory board, a key committee for Turistec, of tourism and business sector employers as well as Segittur, with which we have been collaborating closely for some years in the Intelligent Tourist Destinations board. As a result, we have managed to be a valuable stakeholder for the public sector, which has had an impact on some important decisions for our technology SMEs. We maintain continuous direct communication with both the Government of Spain and the Government of the Balearic Islands, and have recently started contacts with the Government of the Canary Islands.

What is the cluster’s vision for recovery?

That the money obtained to finance projects, whether non-refundable or as loans for innovation on favourable terms, has a return. In other words, that everything we do generates value, whether in the overall improvement of destinations, the expansion of the digital capabilities of our companies or the generation of more profit for companies, always based on services with high added value. The money that comes from the EU is not free and it must be very clear from the outset that, in order to be able to return it, the innovations or improvements carried out must generate a return in one way or another. It is not feasible, indeed it would be a catastrophic mistake at the national level, to think that the public sector has an infinite capacity for indebtedness. There is a point where the level of indebtedness of the state negatively affects, in the long term, the capacity of companies to generate profits and, by derivation, the per capita income of each and every one of us. That is why at Turistec we are very busy in ensuring the delivery of value of the projects and in analysing their return.

A politically incorrect question… Everyone is talking about recovery, reactivation, sales… but what are we really coming to Fitur for this year?

Turistec is coming in response to what our partners are asking us for. As I mentioned earlier, this is the year with the highest number of co-exhibitors, so the first commandment was to respond to this demand. However, understanding where the question is coming from, we are also here to make ourselves seen and heard, as it is an excellent moment to continue with the necessary pressure/help to the public sector, as well as to continue spreading the message of Turistec and to continue growing in membership, having an increasingly larger, more varied and above all international critical mass, which will help us as an organisation to do our bit. And not only to the recovery of the sector and the economy in general, but also to be a decisive element where both the public and private sectors find guaranteed support to face the digital transformation processes. It is clear that, without them, neither companies, nor regions, nor countries will be competitive once we recover the indicators of growth and wealth generation prior to the pandemic.