The tourism industry in Scotland is worth at least £11bn to the economy and employs over 217,000 people in Scotland. It is also a sector that currently has a low concentration of data science expertise, but the use of data has the potential for real impact within the sector.
The Edinburgh Tourism Innovation Challenge
The Edinburgh Tourism Innovation Challenge (ETIC) was developed as a three stage programme that aims to create data-driven innovation for Edinburgh’s tourism industry by connecting Scotland’s tourism and tech/digital sector. The first stage of ETIC was the Challenge Weekend where over 120 attendees of entrepreneurially minded data and tourism enthusiasts and professionals came together to collaborate on tourism related datasets from Scottish public, private and third sector organisations involved in tourism – eg data from taxi companies, attractions, hotels etc. This weekend was sponsored and supported by Intechnology Wifi, Scottish Enterprise and The Data Lab. Following this, we launched the Innovation Fund, which offered 5 projects up to £3,000 for data-focused tourism projects in Edinburgh – the fund is supported by The Data Lab, Scottish Enterprise and ETAG.
Our DataFest18 Fringe Event
Our DataFest18 Fringe Event, will take place in Edinburgh – date to be determined - and will showcase the Innovation Fund projects to Scotland’s tourism and tech sectors. The event will allow the funded projects the opportunity to present their work to:
- inspire other tourism businesses to unlock the potential of their data
- exemplify to the data science community the value of applying technology to the tourism sector
- unlock further collaborations; funding opportunities and partnership through networking
There will also be an opportunity for the attendees to mix with each other in a workshop style setting which will focus on innovative ways to utilise data from the tourism sector and beyond. Our target audience is approximately 60 tourism and technology professionals and students from the public, private and third sector. At the end of the event we will announce an overall winner of the whole challenge.
The Benefit of Data in Tourism
Edinburgh’s tourism industry is growing, in the past 5 years, visitor spending has increased by 30% and visitor numbers have grown to 4.5 million annually. With this high growth new challenges and opportunities arise. By using data we can address these challenges and turn them into positives for the city, for example:
Sometimes local communities can feel frustrated with or detached from the visitor economy in Edinburgh during busy times. Using data, new navigation tools developed by local innovators will help spread visitors across the city to under-served local attractions and events – thereby spreading profits and alleviating busy areas. Lack of up-to-date visitor data can mean local communities and businesses fail to take advantage of the amazing opportunities available to them. Better data services allow for the flow of information to local communities and businesses so they can design and develop better tailored services and products. Edinburgh experiences sharp seasonal fluctuations in visitor numbers. This leads to inconsistent revenue for the visitor economy by using data to understand fluctuations it can lead to new marketing strategies and service offers to attract more visitors in the low season.
These challenges were focused on through the Challenge Weekend and the following Innovation Fund. By addressing these ETIC will deliver positive impact for the city, its communities, its visitors and the tourism industry. We want Scotland’s visitor economy to take advantage of the data-opportunity so that we can continue to create amazing experiences across Scotland and beyond, make more informed data driven decisions and understand our visitors better. The knowledge created through this project will be shared with tourism communities across Scotland through the Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise and ETAG. Alongside growth in the visitor economy, this project will deliver data driven innovation and create sustainable data jobs.