EconomyTechnology and tourism, how to combine them so that...

Technology and tourism, how to combine them so that they are enhanced?

(Expansión) – The Congress of Mexico City organized this month the forum ” Towards a new Tourism Law: challenges and opportunities for the tourism sector “, as a space for reflection and analysis to identify and respond to the challenges and areas of opportunity that should be considered in the proposals for a New Tourism Law in CDMX.

Technology has played an important role in the economic recovery. With the arrival of more flexible work formats, it has made thousands of people around the world see Mexico as a great opportunity to work remotely.

In the meeting there were several positions and they fluctuated between those who consider that tourism does not need technology and those who thought that without it, in a few years it could disappear as a fundamental activity for the support and economic growth of the city. Although both positions have arguments, in this type of debate there is a fundamental starting point for a true productive dialogue to be generated: it is important to move away from very personal views, to give rise to truly innovative and functional conclusions and actions for the city.

On the side of the platforms of the Traveltech branch, the members of the Latin American Internet Association (ALAI) seek to build a view that contemplates how the reactivation of the economy and the activities associated with it are resuming their “normal” course. ” post COVID, and what role technology played during the pandemic, as well as what role it will play from now on, as a complement to traditional tourist activities.

For example, the fact that with the arrival of more flexible work formats, thousands of people – including digital nomads – worldwide now see the city as an ideal space to work remotely. In this sense, there is an opportunity to capitalize and make the city grow in terms of tourism.

There is also the question of economic spillover: that final result of the average monetary calculation of the total expenses made by visitors to cities not only where they stay, but also where they eat, entertain or take excursions.

In this item, it is indisputable how digital platforms, hand in hand with the technology that supports them, have transformed tourism in Mexico, making it more competitive and promoting diversity of benefits through the collaborative economy, where new actors are being integrated to the value chain of the tourism sector, mostly micro, small and medium enterprises.

Additionally, the platforms are a fundamental element for the integration of key groups in society. For example, 51% of hosts are women on the platforms. Similarly, 10% of the hosts are older adults. They have also contributed to the diversification of tourism. From 2019 to 2021, the percentage of nights booked in small communities has tripled. In fact, up to 80% of people spend most of their time in the neighborhoods where they stay, which helps to socialize the economic spill. Additionally, in the context of the pandemic, the hosts have become tourist ambassadors to promote the economic reactivation of their localities.

In short: the platforms help the elastic and innovative growth of tourism in a city such as Mexico City. They allow the accommodation to grow during a weekend without the need to invest in infrastructure, they enable sustainable and efficient accommodation at times of high demand such as dates of popular celebrations or massive music or sports events with a large and sudden confluence of people.

For this reason, a balance point must be found so that public policies clearly and adequately regulate this technology, taking into account its contributions and the differentiation between the responsibilities of the host, the guest and the platform.

It is also essential that the nature of the accommodation origin be considered as a starting point (whether they are a house or a single room, for example) and that the platforms are not service providers, but rather information platforms and marketplaces.

Last but not least, also understand that since the 2020 reform, hosting platforms already pay VAT and ISR at the federal level, as well as the Lodging Tax (ISH), which is a state competition tax that contributes to local trusts, in matters of promotion and tourist infrastructure, among others. Today, some platforms like Airbnb and Expedia pay ISH in Mexico City, but not all.

In short, lodging services through non-traditional modalities and the technological platforms that provide these services are allies of tourist destinations, local communities, companies in the sector and local and federal authorities.

As part of this technological ecosystem around tourism and innovation, ALAI and the platforms hope to work with more regulators and authorities around the world in order to help them take advantage of the benefits they offer. Through the creation of clear, innovative, simple regulations, together with implementation strategies that help compliance, the goal can be reached.

At a time when technology has begun to mobilize a greater number of people and break with traditional patterns, the platforms of the tourism sector will continue to seek opportunities for economic growth, employment and social development for all people in Mexico and the world.

Editor’s note: Sissi de la Peña is a representative of the Latin American Internet Association. Follow her on LinkedIn and/or on Twitter. The opinions published in this column correspond exclusively to the author.

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