Tourism is included in at least three of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations agenda for 2030. Thus, sustainability in tourism is present on the agenda of all governments and institutions.
Likewise, the effects of the pandemic caused by Covid-19 have led to the inclusion of a line of action aimed at achieving safer destinations in the recovery plan for Europe, through the Next Generation Funds.
And also the tourism sector has an important weight in the economy of the Region of Murcia and all of Spain. It has been an engine of recovery in previous crises and the current one is suffering especially. Knowing the sector in detail will undoubtedly help to develop more effective measures for its recovery.
Therefore, in the Faculty of Business Sciences of the Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT) various lines of research are carried out, which respond to current needs of the sector, aligned with objectives highlighted by organizations such as Segittur or Turespaña, such as the digitization of the sector and smart tourist destinations.
In fact, according to Miguel Ángel Tobarra, dean of the Faculty and researcher of the Economy, Territory and Environment group, «these objectives are also present in the Research and Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialization in the Region of Murcia (RIS3Mur) in the collaboration of institutions such as INFO or ITREM, which seeks new business models based on technology, new innovative products and services ”.
Among the lines that are being worked on, three stand out: economic impact of tourist activities, financed by the Santo Domingo Foundation, through the competitiveness chair of the College of Economists; destination security, which is part of the HORECoV-21 project financed by the regional government to help hotels and tourism in the Region of Murcia; and a line on sustainability that has its own funding from the University through the Erasmus program or the Santander chair.
«In the case of the economic impact line, it would be a question of assessing the effect that tourist spending associated with an event, a tourist product or even the entire sector has on the economy of a given territory. Destination security is of great importance at this time. Thus, work is being done to detect the needs of establishments in the tourism sector, which allow the development of measures aimed at enhancing security. Finally, in the third case, strategies are sought to achieve economic growth in the sector, social and cultural inclusion and preservation of the environment, ”as Miguel Ángel Tobarra explains.
The dean considers that “the three examples presented are an excellent example of the commitment of the Faculty of Business Sciences for research and innovation in the tourism sector. There are many others already completed. Also the research associated with the seven doctoral theses that are currently being developed in the two doctoral programs that the Faculty has. Again, and to give just two examples, one of these works analyzes the applications of Big Data in the tourist accommodation sector and the real estate sector; in another, they focus on the establishment of strategies that generate awareness, good behavior and efficient use of national parks ”.
As a consequence of all these works, numerous results have been obtained. In recent years, for example, the economic contribution of tourist events and the sector itself to the regional economy has been quantified. In short, the results of these lines of research allow us to know better the functioning and structure of the sector.
Tobarra highlights the importance of having qualified professionals in the tourism sector in general and in research in particular. «The role of the universities is fundamental here, as is having forums that allow the permanent collaboration of all the agents involved in the sector and that allow the transfer of knowledge to companies and institutions. Naturally, they should be endowed with financing lines that ensure excellence in research and the transfer of results to the sector ”, he concludes.