Today in Madrid, we announced an agreement with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) through which we will help drive technology adoption, particularly focused on cloud computing, for the tourism industry.
This deal will benefit the 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.
Today, around the world, one out of 12 people work in the tourism industry, which represents five percent of global GDP. In Spain, tourism employs more than 11 percent of the workforce and represents nearly 13 percent of the country’s GDP. Technology plays a critical role in advancing the state-of-the-art in many industries, and tourism is no exception. Tourism is an industry in which buying decisions are increasingly influenced by the information and resources available online, so we see huge opportunities for the cloud to help small and large businesses alike in this industry to improve their competitiveness and productivity. In the current economic climate, we think this is welcome news for everyone.
Through this agreement, the UNWTO recognizes Microsoft as a strategic partner in 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.
Much of this work will be done from the Microsoft Innovation Center for Tourism Technologies, which has operated since 2009 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The Center is a technology hub for the tourism industry, entrepreneurs and university students working to improve competitiveness and productivity of the sector, and has benefitted more than 4,000 people to date.
Also under this agreement, we’re excited to be partnering with the Themis Foundation on a related effort to educate and train small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on how technology and cloud computing can be used to improve competitiveness and sustainability in tourism. We’re also looking forward to working with the Themis Foundation to develop volunteering projects related to tourism innovation in emerging countries.
Microsoft puts a great deal of importance on this type of public-private partnership at the national, regional and international levels. We feel these ties are critical to promoting economic growth and competitiveness. We see cloud computing as one of the technologies that has the most potential to help advance employability and economic recovery, so we’re excited to get to work on this great partnership with the UN World Tourism Organization.
Posted by Jean-Philippe Courtois
President, Microsoft International