Past crises have caused us to innovate and develop new sources of knowledge, and the Covid-19 epidemic is no different 

Within the space of just a few months, our lives have changed forever. However now more than ever, it’s up to cities and local communities to take the lead and set new standards for economic growth and social prosperity.

This is especially true in the case of digital transformation. Striving to navigate the Covid-19 disruption, all major industries have become more familiar with advanced technology solutions in order to improve the customer experience using technology, create a more dynamic and flexible working environment and reorganise numerous operations. 

The same goes for travel and tourism, though in this highly complex, fragmented industry it’s been easy to procrastinate and hope that it will happen by magic at some mystical point in the future. Hopefully there are already initiatives showing signs of a decisive response by policy makers and industry leaders. 

Our destinations should be particularly aware of this transformation. Why? Because as we identified in our recent Covid-19 DMMO Continuity Checklist for European Cities Marketing, digital place-making strategies will be an essential step for destinations to improve visitor crowd flows and give residents and visitors confidence that tourism recovery isn’t going to make a complex public health situation even worse. The need to ensure improved place management through using digital tools was already a vital pending task for destinations, along with many other pressing issues as we pointed out in our most recent blog post on the broader shifts and trends in the economy and society that have been accelerated by Covid-19.  

On May 13, 2020, the European Commission released guidance on how to safely resume travel and reboot Europe’s tourism in 2020 and beyond. Aware that 2020 will be an extraordinarily challenging year for European countries that rely heavily on tourism, the EC has proposed “a common European approach to managing what will remain a difficult 2020 summer season, while preparing for a more sustainable and digital tourism ecosystem in the future” (Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton). Robots for disinfecting and cleaning, crowd management and smart booking systems are some of the areas where local tourism businesses will be able to gain knowledge and practical experience through EC’s Digital Innovation Hubs.

There are numerous guidelines on how digital transformation should occur. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (2019) identifies seven types of digital technologies that hold potential benefits for growth and well-being (see graph alongside).

Along with Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality for travel and tourism (OECD, 2020), these should be seen as a series of interdependent pillars.  Those pillars form an ecosystem that underpins digital transformation and will evolve to drive new products and services across all industries.

Destinations such as Geneva, Manchester, Vienna and Singapore have already launched initiatives to accelerate digital transformation, enable innovation in new skills and practices, and support everyone involved in the visitor economy during a tough period for businesses and local communities. Practical examples of these measures include:
  • Dedicated platforms that aim to address the concerns of visitors, local citizens, and businesses
  • Online training for upskilling the tourism sector’s workers
  • Databases and dashboards of analytics where industry stakeholders can access updated tourism statistics, and exchange data
For more information on the Checklist you can watch our dedicated webinar with European Cities Marketing (available here:

What can we do for you

 We’re supporting European cities through the coronavirus epidemic and we’re ready to support you too. Some of our Covid-19 recovery services include:
  • Consumer sentiment research
  • Business support guidance
  • Internal assessments and organisational change management
  • Destination supply and demand analysis
  • Place branding strategies
  • Recovery marketing plans
  • Advocacy planning and communications
  • Rapid destination strategy refresh, using sprint methodology
If you would like to know more, you're always welcome to get in contact with us. Just drop us a line at or send us a note through our contact page.





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