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17 abril 2024

Enrique Martínez: “Spain has a great cluster culture that we should take more advantage of”

As part of the conference organized by the Sustainable Tourism Cluster of Aragon (TSAC) and the IDIA Cluster, we had the privilege of interviewing Enrique Martinez, president of SEGITTUR, the State Trading Company for the Management of Innovation and Tourism Technologies. During the day, crucial topics such as European projects and the smart destination platform were discussed.

Could you share with us how SEGITTUR is contributing to technological innovation in the Spanish tourism sector?

Segittur is an instrumental company. It is a public company of the Ministry of Industry and Tourism, and therefore we do not lead anything, we do the things that the Secretary of State for Tourism orders us to do. We are mandated to work in areas such as smart destinations, defining this model through five axes and hundreds of indicators. We are expanding this idea to Ibero-America, launching tourism intelligence systems and emblematic projects such as the smart destination platform.

And how does this platform ultimately affect tourism in Spain?

There are three actors in tourism: the territory, territorial management and tourist-citizens. We seek to enhance the interactions between these actors to generate a new generation of data that will allow us to better understand what is happening, improve the promotion and sale of our products.

Could you explain this smart destinations project better for those of us who are not in the sector?

Smart destinations start from an academic reflection on how to efficiently manage a destination. The World Tourism Organization proposed in 2019 that destination managers stop thinking of themselves as mere generators of campaigns and see themselves as managers of the destination’s reality. It is broken down into five axes: technology, innovation, governance, accessibility and sustainability. Destinations are evaluated through a diagnosis of this ideal model, providing them with tools and experiences from other destinations.

How does Segittur approach the integration of sustainable practices in the Spanish tourism industry and what role does innovation play in this aspect?

Sustainability is achieved through public policies. It is essential to have public policies in these areas. Segittur has contributed with initiatives such as circular economy manuals. In the Network of Smart Tourist Destinations, sustainability is measured through indicators in the diagnoses, making it possible to evaluate the performance of each destination.

Spain has made great progress and great contributions, and SEGITTUR has modestly launched initiatives such as circular economy manuals, which are really very successful. Another thing that makes us very excited is how to convert the product of the primary sector in tourism products such as a cheese factory, for example, can generate additional income and also teach visitors how cheese is made.

The word sustainability by its very definition has: social society, environmental society and one of the sustainability is economic, economically it must be sustainable. Tourism has to be profitable, logically, if it is not profitable, if we do not attract tourists, then we do nothing. In fact, all the European projects, one of the things that they ask you is to be economically sustainable in the time.

In relation to your participation in the conference, could you share with us the key message you hoped to convey and how you see the role of clusters in promoting sustainability?

That we all work together is the only way to work well and therefore I see it as very necessary. Spain has a great cluster culture that we should take advantage of much more because what is missing in the sector is that unity of all the actors. Without the help of the clusters, the companies in our fabric, which are many micro-SMEs, would not even be able to present projects. Today’s message was twofold. It was, on the one hand, to communicate that we are creating an intelligent platform for destinations, that we have a model of intelligent tourist destinations that allows us to make a diagnosis with which you can intervene in reality through implementation; what the platform does is to complement that diagnosis, to build an infrastructure that allows me to start capturing data and to manage that data on an infrastructure. There is going to be a set of services that are going to be provided to all the municipalities centrally and money that is going to be given so that the municipalities can define their own plans, their own destination platforms. And all this data is consolidated nationally, with this new generation data that produces an interaction between tourists, citizens, SMEs, and destinations, which allows the creation of products or services, or new promotions, etc.. With this they will have access to the distribution channel on the platform. We are going to give many SMEs access to the distribution channel that they do not have right now.

Given the current situation and the challenges facing the tourism industry, how do you see the future of tourism in Spain and what role can technology play in its recovery or growth?

Technology is a tool, it does not have a role per se. Success lies in meeting people’s needs and adding value to the entire value chain. We face challenges, but unity and adaptation to real needs will be key for the future.

Could you share any of Segittur’s key future goals or projects?

We presented our smart destination platform project, conceptually very advanced, we are way ahead of what is out there anywhere. We will launch a data space that will allow tagging and accessing next generation data, generating services based on tourism data. We are looking to advance in tourism-specific data models, a first in this field.

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