Thursday, December 12, 2013 | 11:11 AM
If Southern Europe is to recover from the euro crisis, the region will need to boost its traditionally strong tourism industry - and one of the best ways to sell its sun, beauty, and history is through the Internet. This is the conclusion of new Oxford Economics study titled “The Impact of Online Content on European Tourism.”
The research, supported by us, found that Greece, Italy and Spain could improve their performance with online bookings. On average, some 49 percent of hotel bookings in the European Union,are made on the web. In Greece, by contrast, online bookings account for only 10 percent. In Spain, it is 26 percent, and in Italy, 43 percent.
In addition, the three countries enjoy great opportunities to market their rich cultural heritage. Culture-related searches account for 45 percent of all tourism-related searches on Greece, 31 percent for Italy, and 44 percent for Spain. Greek Italian and Spanish museums, art galleries, historical sites and cultural events will be able to move more traffic online.
If full advantage is taken of the Internet, Oxford calculates that Greece could see a 20 percent expansion in its tourism business, boosting GDP growth by an astounding 3.2 percent. Italy’s GDP would increase by 1 percent, and Spain’s by 0.5 percent. Some 50,000 jobs would be created in Spain, 100,000 in Greece, and 250,000 in Italy.
Specific recommendations to achieve these goals include:
- Encourage tourist businesses to build websites in multiple languages across multiple online platforms - travel apps, travel apps, search, sales portals, travel reviews, travel guides.
- Update the content frequently - and given the significant role that culture plays in tourism in Europe, pay special attention to online cultural content.
- Motivate government agencies to work with the private sector to provide complementary destination and cultural online content.
- Use social media and encourage feedback from customers. This will allow businesses to build relationships with their customers as well as improve service offerings over time.
Let’s hope that the research will encourage additional investments in online tourism.