Smart Cities World – Economy and finance


Mastercard is setting up a new tourism innovation center in Madrid with the support of the Spanish government.

The hub will develop solutions to support a sustainable and inclusive recovery of the global tourism sector through innovation, research and collaboration.

In 2019, travel and tourism accounted for 10.4% of global GDP, but nearly halved to 5.5% in 2020. Similarly, international visitors spent US$1,691.5 billion in 2019 and this amount fell to US$517.6 billion in 2020.

According to its latest forecast, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that international tourist arrivals remained 70-75% below 2019 levels last year. The impact also goes beyond GDP figures, with the industry playing a vital role in creating jobs and creating opportunities for micro and small businesses around the world.

Recovery opportunities

Despite the obvious challenges, Mastercard said its data shows there are opportunities for a robust recovery in the relatively near future. Many consumers are looking to spend their share of the extra US$5 trillion saved since the start of Covid-19, and travel ranks second after restaurant meals as the most missed out-of-home activity during lockdowns. There has been a clear willingness to travel that has been determined by pandemic restrictions.

“There has been a multi-trillion dollar impact on the global tourism industry over the past two years, but Mastercard is committed to driving innovation and ensuring technology is harnessed for a more inclusive recovery, fair and sustainable,” said Mark Barnett, President of Mastercard Europe.

“We will stop measuring the success of the Spanish tourism model exclusively by the increase in the number of tourists – we must go beyond and focus on quality, profitability, innovation and sustainability”

“The Tourism Innovation Hub will foster programs and build partnerships that will help the industry recover and drive more inclusive and sustainable tourism growth. Being located in Spain will allow us to take advantage of the expertise of a country intrinsically linked to tourism and the second most visited destination in the world.

The Tourism Innovation Hub will act as a global platform for industry research, the development of tourism strategies and the co-creation of bespoke products and solutions, through partnerships and initiatives such as:

  • thought leadership: leveraging data insights and capturing target consumer insights to identify trends and inform policy decision-making
  • development hub: co-creating new products and services, codifying best practices, and serving as a platform to bring together public and private sector partners to innovate together
  • labs-as-a-service (LaaS): design, development, and testing of new products and platforms that deliver digital-first, sustainable, and inclusive industry solutions that address shared business and consumer priorities .

“The Spanish government believes that now is the time for us to work together to build the future of our post-pandemic tourism model,” said Reyes Maroto, Spain’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism. “We are going to stop measuring the success of the Spanish tourism model only by the increase in the number of tourists – we must now go beyond and focus on quality, profitability, innovation and sustainability, as well as the social inclusion and territorial cohesion There is no time to lose in meeting this challenge.

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