Digitalization of Tourism Sector

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The travel industry has been at the forefront of digital innovation and continues to be transformed at an exponential rate across the globe. Digitalization has left no segment of the travel ecosystem untouched. “Technology pervades every area of tourism and must be given the highest priority when developing the workforce for the industry,” said a 2016 report from the United Nations World Travel Organization. The report cites that 52% of smartphones in the world are owned in the Asia Pacific, and social media is becoming a customer service improvement tool for hospitality groups. Travel is essentially about connecting people and places. Leveraging technology such as near-universal high-speed internet connectivity, search and geolocation technologies, mobile payments, and social platforms, these connections have evolved and one industry-changing development has been the explosion of the sharing economy. In today’s digital age where bookings are confirmed in a split second and an entire trip can be planned with a few taps of the finger, it’s hard to imagine life back in the “golden age of travel”. with technology, traveling today is more affordable, accessible, and convenient than ever before. The sharing economy has also forced tourism industry stakeholders to rethink their definition of tourism and reconsider the travel experience of the future. International travel is increasingly driven by cross-border collaboration between governments and the private sector. One big advantage of digitalization is the ability to harvest data and analytics. Consumers want to feel special and expect personalization of service and experience. By capturing personal data from customers and learning more about their behavioral patterns, companies are increasingly optimizing services across the customer journey. Emerging markets, particularly those along China’s Belt and Road Initiative, are benefitting from more tourism and the digitalization of travel.

The tourism industry of Pakistan has always had limitless untapped potential, but the greater part of the last decade was spent recognizing this potential.  Pakistan has some of the world’s highest mountains, lakes, and natural sceneries and is a popular destination for adventurers from inside and outside the country. Pakistan is a developing nation where tourism has recently been pushed to promote economic growth and improve the soft power image of the state internationally. Most prominently, Pakistan has made a big jump on International Travel and Tourism Development Index by moving up six places as per the latest report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The 2021 edition of the Travel and Tourism Development Index includes 117 countries. The index ranks the countries based on the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable and resilient development of the travel and tourism industry of each country. As per the latest edition of the International Travel and Tourism Competitive Index titled “Rebuilding for a Sustainable and Resilient Future,” Pakistan has been ranked 83rd, which is up from 89th place in the index’s previous edition of 2019. Six points increase in the raking of Pakistan on Global Travel and Tourism Index is quite a significant progress and now Pakistan is among the countries in the Asia Pacific Region that have improved its ranking the most since 2019. Despite the important developments, the tourist industry is still facing several challenges in Pakistan most importantly towards its shift on digitalization. There is a need for the creation of an e-portal at national level is necessary to attract international tourists to boost the tourism sector by shifting it to digital tourism. Similarly, there is a dire need to formulate a Comprehensive National Tourism Policy specifically, digital tourism policy. Alongside other agendas, e-tourism should also be incorporated as a part of their broader objectives to promote domestic and international tourism. As the world has experienced the worst pandemic of the century, the importance of virtual technologies has offered alternatives to travel around then the world. With modern technologies, viewers from their personal spaces can experience the world. In addition to this, various tourist guides and transport businesses use virtual platforms to interact with their potential customers even during normal circumstances. Last but not the least, If the government and other stakeholders are concerned in promoting tourist industry and homegrown tourism, they must make sure that security at tourist places, adequate facilities are provided to the tourists. Rational Policy decisions to promote the culture of tourism must take into account. In a world that is moving towards a ‘digital economy’, e-tourism can significantly benefit developing countries like Pakistan. With the commencement of the China Pakistan Economic corridor (CPEC), many Chinese people visiting Pakistan have increased. This has provided the country with the opportunity to increase investment, especially in China’s private sector. The development of spectacular Gwadar port has also boosted ‘coastal tourism ‘in Pakistan. In short, Pakistan’s tourist industry has the potential to grow, but only with the right decision making, we can move towards the road to sustainable development.

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