Digital tourism: modernizing existing programs and launching niche and community-based tourism

digital tourism

Tour and travel companies are making digital their weapon and increasing revenues through the digitalization of their businesses. In June’s digest, we have assembled a wide range of examples of digital transformation in the travel market. The first digital travel services appeared at the beginning of 2000, during the dotcom era. Today, we can’t imagine planning our travel without the wide range of available platforms.

Google statistics indicate that when planning our travel we typically perform about 400 search queries. This data is used by travel companies to influence our booking decisions and persuade us to choose specific routes, companies and hotels. 74% of travelers around the world plan the details of their travel online. That’s why Turkey, for example, has announced plans to develop their latest concept which is named “Tourism 4.0”. The country is planning to make a significant investment in the development of digital marketing for the tourism industry.

In Asia, tourism also generates significant revenues for the economy of the region. As such, the governments of Asian countries are managing digital transformation initiatives at the state level. In June of this year, Sri Lanka announced the launch of large-scale digital promotion of the country as an attractive tourist destination. The country’s government wants to attract 2.5 million tourists in 2017.

Indonesia’s answer to the worldwide expansion of Airbnb is to launch its own booking platform for guest houses and villas. Named Indonesia Travel Exchange, it is supported by the government and already has 2,000 houses for rent in the platform inventory.

Additionally, there are dozens of tourist startups around the world, and each one of them brings original ideas and business models to the market. Cambodian platform CamboTicket recently received additional funding to expand their platform which helps travelers reserve seats in buses, ferries, and taxies in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand.

Thai startup Local Alike is bringing the new concept of local tourism to the world. With its digital platform, the company hopes to connect local people across Southeast Asia with travelers from all over the world who are interested in community-based tourism experiences. Recently Local Alike was named 1 of the 10 startups selected to participate in’s accelerator program in June in Amsterdam.

Many tourism startups seek to create their own niche; for example in gastronomy or medical tourism. French platform Tripnparty connects travelers with locals who can introduce them to the best local bars or pubs which are well known by locals, not tourists. So far, the startup has collected data for several European cities.

Earlier in June, Bali held a tourism startup contest – Startup Weekend Bali – where the best ideas for startups were chosen. The winner’s list includes Botol Wisata (a platform that lists Indonesian hotels offering refillable water bottles to its guests), Finger Farm (an app to connect local farmers with travelers interested in farming), Travelis (an app to connect travelers with local guides and taxi drivers on Bali) and so on. 

The most ambitious project in our selection of examples of tourism-focused digital transformations came from Finland. Service Space Nation wants to popularize space tourism by offering the first trip to the International space station. One of the project marketers is genius Peter Vesterback who helped Rovio to make Angry Birds one of the most popular games in the world. Space Nation is also coming up with a game that includes virtual reality elements (special equipment will be delivered to the International space station in 2018 by one of the cargo spaceships from NASA). The company promises the game will be fun, interactive and useful. That’s it for the coverage of this month’s topic – digital tourism!

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