Skip to content

The digital skills divide: evidence from the European tourism industry research article carried out in the frame of NTG project

This paper presents the findings from a European study on the digital skills gaps in tourism and hospitality companies. It discusses the digital skills gap of tourism and hospitality employees and identifies the most important digital skills they would need in the future. The main objectives of the paper include: evaluating tourism and hospitality employees’ current proficiency level of digital skills; evaluating their required future proficiency level; identifying the gaps between the current and the required future proficiency levels; evaluating the role of country of registration, tourism sector and organisation size on the digitals skills gaps and proficiency levels; and identifying the digital skills training received by tourism and hospitality employees and the role of country of registration, tourism sector and organisation size on type of training received by the employees. The target population of the research that was implemented in 2018 includes tourism companies’ and organizations’ managers, tour operators and travel agents, destination management organizations, accommodation providers as well as visitor attractions. Its main findings suggest that the most important future digital skills include online marketing and communication skills, social media skills, MS Office skills, operating systems use skills and skills to monitor online reviews. The largest gaps between the current and the future skill levels were identified for artificial intelligence and robotics skills and augmented reality and virtual reality skills, but these skills, together with computer programming skills, were considered also as the least important digital skills. Taking the results of the research into account, future digital skills across all tourism subsectors should consist of: Self-learning capacities (permanent education, adaptability, agility and flexibility – necessary to cope with ongoing digital innovations and disruptive business models); Digital fluency- Skills for conducting E-business: all skills necessary for online branding, marketing and distribution (including websites, social media, reviews), data collection, data analytics and data management (including protection, ethics and cybersecurity); As AI, VR and AR driven technologies will be increasingly important in all tourism sectors, a better understanding of these fields is essential; As unique, customised and personalised experiences are the future in all tourism sectors, skills in creating experiences both in the real world and with the use of AR, VR or in mixed reality with special attention to gamification, as well as creating online and video content will become more important; and It is important to note that profession-specific knowledge (about attractions, hotels, food, “non-googleable” travel options) will remain important.