*A chairman shall be appointed for each session.
Innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education institutions are central to the concerns of the European Union, which, through the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), promotes and finances multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research projects. Innovation is a constant and permanent search for excellence, progress, and evolution. While entrepreneurship enables the materialization and application of innovation, offering products and services that respond to the needs and problems of society. The knowledge triangle represents the creation and capacity for innovation through the link and partnership between higher education institutions, research centers and companies.
New technologies have enabled the emergence of new tools and strategies that facilitate the travel experience for tourists. Smart tourism involves a digital transformation capable of bringing tourists closer to technological trends to improve their knowledge, comfort and connection with their surroundings from the beginning to the end of each trip.
Despite not being one of the most urgent issues at present, there is no doubt that the creation of a brand and image is a fundamental tool in the world of tourism, used by companies as a lure and attractor of tourists. Although promotional packages, facilities and comfort are a tourist attraction in themselves, it will be interesting to reflect on what aspects tourists pay more attention to when choosing one destination or another, one agency or another, one meal or another.
Good practices in tourism have taught us that curiosity, exploring the new and asking questions is a perspective and not a destination in itself. Travel has become an activity to promote mental health and personal growth, and at the same time, improve empathy, vital energy, attention and concentration. Encourage the organization of slow travel to lesser-known areas rather than rushing to the most popular destinations. By diversifying destinations away from mass tourism and focusing on those places that really need it, it helps reduce the impoverishment of smaller communities.
Covid-19 has allowed us to ask how and why we travel, giving us the freedom to explore travel projects for passion and not for the paycheck. Recognizing the privilege of travel has made us think about travel more intentionally and less frequently.
One of the lessons that confinement left in people’s memories during the COVID-19 pandemic was to learn to value the freedom of going outdoors, the magic of dining on a terrace in your own street, or taking a walk outdoors in your neighborhood park. While the domestic space became places of socialization, flexible, multipurpose and transformable, the city, the architecture, the public spaces were preparing to coexist with the virus, incorporating new prevention measures, respecting the interpersonal safety distance and applying a new language of communication.
The pandemic also brought with it a process of inclusion of tourism, favoring access to people in previously restricted areas, without distinction of gender, race or social status. Examples such as the access of a trans woman when choosing which restroom to enter in a restaurant, or when checking into a hotel when her ID card shows a different person. Or the needs of plus-size tourists when they want to do a sporting activity such as surfing or scuba diving, who previously could not do so for lack of wetsuits in their size. Or blind tourists who want to hike or do extreme sports during their vacation will be considered and taken care of.
Disassociating innovation from education is a mistake. Higher education institutions promote innovation as the necessary way to change things. The participation of universities in the creation of knowledge and generation of talent provides society with the tools to face the challenges of the present and the future. A responsible education, involved in real problems, participative and conscious, is capable of directing innovation in the right direction.
(Social considerations of tourism)
The new law on waste and the use of polluting soils for a circular economy (Law 7/2022) prioritizes prevention measures in waste policy, including actions against food waste, the reduction of plastic packaging consumption and the prohibition of the destruction of unsold surpluses of non-perishable products. This active legislation through environmental management programs is strengthened by responsible tourism that is increasingly aware of the importance of its actions.
Climate change is a fact, we are living it. Expert research shows that from 2050 onwards, coastal areas, where a large part of the world’s population is concentrated, will be flooded every year due to rising sea levels as a result of the climate crisis, requiring the implementation of measures, mechanisms and strategies (dikes, breakwaters, walls, …) to prevent the disappearance of cities. In addition, other climatic factors such as earthquakes, hurricanes, cyclones, tsunamis, will test their resilience. Tourism environments will have to be more natural, sustainable and resilient.