Professor Dimitrios Buhalis on Spain’s rising tourism levels

Professor Dimitrios Buhalis, Director of the E-Tourism lab at Bournemouth University, has commented on Spain’s record year for tourism.

His views went on to feature in 13 media outlets including Reuters, Yahoo News and CNBC Online.

Sunseekers avoiding the unrest in Egypt and Turkey flocked to Spain in record numbers last month, setting the country up for its best-ever year for visitors and giving a boost to its ailing economy.

Professor Buhalis put the rise of private rentals in Spain down to the economic crisis. He says that because people have less money they are choosing smaller accommodation and less established airlines for their holidays.

“What’s happening … because of the economic crisis is that people are preferring smaller airlines, smaller hotels and they are paying less,” he said.

Professor Buhalis’ work was also featured in the Business section of the Bournemouth Echo, with a feature on a social media seminar he will run in November.

The seminar will look at how social media is increasingly influencing consumer behaviour, with travellers relying on the guidance of others.

Professor Buhalis said: “Travellers will, more and more, rely on the advice of other travellers as against advertising, guidebooks and printed material” and suggests “marketers should use social media to try to stimulate conversation and encourage interaction”

The Conversation UK features BU academics on travelling to Egypt

Bournemouth University’s Senior Lecturer in Tourism, Dr Yeganeh Morakabati and Director of the International Centre for Tourism and Hospitality at Bournemouth University, Professor John Fletcher had their article “Egypt still on the holiday map, but is it risky and is it right?” published on The Conversation UK website.

The article discusses the risk and morality on travelling to Egypt for a holiday during the major civil unrest.

“People tend to avoid destinations that offer a greater level of risk than they get back in return for the benefits they get from going there”, the article added.

They collected 394 questionnaires before and during the Arab Spring, when Libya, Egypt and Tunisia were all fighting for political change asking “how much risk do you feel is involved when travelling to a list of Middle East countries?”

The results showed that Egypt was considered a low risk destination and grouped with countries with no civil war (at the time).

However things seem to have changed.

“Egypt is now subject to travel warnings from the UK government, highlighting areas advising where not to travel and where only essential travel should be undertaken. The major tour operators are getting nervous and companies such as TUI have cancelled all holidays to Egypt for its German customers following travel warnings.”

“But equally, if tourism in Egypt were to collapse, the suffering of ordinary people across the country would be greater because the detrimental effect on the economy. After the 2004 tsunami in south-east Asia, many people asked themselves if it would be OK to holiday in a region where there was still so much suffering. The answer from the area was unequivocal: “Yes – because we need the money.””

Dean Eastmond

Dean is a student at Budmouth College in Weymouth, who is working at Bournemouth University in the Press and PR Department. He joined BU on a Sir Samuel Mico Scholarship, which provides 10 students from his college with essential work experience for four weeks over the summer.

BU Professor chairs international conference into technology and tourism


Technology and social media are becoming critically important tools for successful international tourism.

This has been recognised by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and the Minister of Tourism in Costa Rica, who organised a Technical Seminar on Tourism and New Technologies.

Delegates came from 22 countries – including Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and the Bahamas – and the conference discussed how tourism has been influenced by the latest technological breakthroughs, as well as the opportunities that lie ahead.

Professor Dimitrios Buhalis, Director of the e-Tourism Lab at Bournemouth University (BU), chaired the seminar, which took place in Costa Rica.

A tourism marketing expert who specialises in e-tourism and technology, he chaired panels looking at the internet, social media and mobile marketing in relation to tourism.

He also trained delegates – who included 12 tourism ministers – on how to use technology and social media to increase the competitiveness of their tourism industry.

Professor Buhalis said: “It is gratifying that increasingly the international tourism industry and governments from around the world, as well as the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, recognise how technology can support the competitiveness of the tourism destinations and organisations.

“Cutting edge research and solutions we develop at Bournemouth University provide technological tools such as social media, augmented reality and gaming to enable organisations to dynamically engage with consumers and facilitate co-creation of products and value in the marketplace.”

Professor Buhalis added that social media is reversing tourism marketing strategies, with consumers becoming advocates and ambassadors for products around the world.

He believes that mobile technologies can make interaction between organisations and consumers dynamic and agile – revolutionising engagement and economic benefits.

“Only those organisations that are able and willing to use these tools in an agile way will be able to develop their competitiveness in the future and generate prosperity for their stakeholders,” he said.

“I am glad that Latin American countries are committed to develop their knowledge through our expertise, and innovate in order to maximise their benefits.”

Other speakers at the seminar included executives from Google, Trip Advisor and Expedia Latin America.

The seminar took place in San Jose, Costa Rica on May 14 and 15.