Cloud Computing and Tourism: Microsoft and the World Tourism Organization Join Hands
Cloud computing is spreading across all industries. Therefore, it’s not surprising that an industry that employs 1 in 12 people in the world and generates 5% of the global GDP has also seen the possible benefits of going on the cloud. Yes, I’m talking about tourism whose global umbrella body, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), has recently signed an agreement with Microsoft to use cloud computing to develop tourism across the world.
According to Microsoft, this partnership will benefit 155 UNWTO member countries and the more than 400 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities, by helping them apply cloud technologies to improve business efficiency and innovation. Microsoft, through its Innovation Center for Tourism Technologies headquartered in Mallorca, Spain, would be responsible for providing cloud-based solutions, including productivity and collaboration tools, instant messaging and e-mail, video conferencing and distance training solutions, customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning, and development and application platform tools. Microsoft will also collaborate with the UNWTO Themis Foundation, which is responsible for implementing the UNWTO’s program of work in the field of Education and Training.
“The tourism sector has undergone a drastic transformation over the past years and has been evolving towards Tourism 3.0, where users connect to travel websites and interact by sharing their experiences. That directly influences the perceptions and decisions of other users and potential travelers,” said Microsoft International president Jean-Philippe Courtois. “Because of this, it is more and more important for tourism sector enterprises to develop their online businesses by looking to the most advanced technology. In this regard, the adoption of cloud computing is key, as it provides access to a solid web platform that will make it possible to offer more productive, efficient and competitive services.”
“Cooperation with Microsoft is both timely, in light of the current economic context, and necessary in view of the technological demands we are subject to. Tourism has a proven track record when it comes to being at the leading edge of innovation and the dissemination of best practices, and our sector closely reflects the positive potential of globalization,” said Márcio Favilla, executive director of the UNWTO. “Thanks to cooperation with Microsoft we will be able to more rapidly implement training tools and disseminate their content, stimulate the adoption of practical and advanced technological solutions in our sector and continue to promote tourism as a vehicle of sustainable development.”
Now, tourism is no stranger to cloud computing. Last year I had written about one such deal that promises to leverage the strengths of the cloud in the travel industry (See: Cloud Computing and the Travel Agent: Thomas Cook Signs 10-Year Deal with Accenture). With more and more travel itineraries being booked through websites and online advertising through search engines and social media demanding larger shares of the advertising pie, the ability of cloud computing to add value at low cost is clear.
By Sourya Biswas