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Sep 15, 2023

TIABC Voice of Tourism Newsletter – September 15, 2023



Every year, another form of technology seems to dominate daily conversations, media reports, advertising campaigns, supplier sales pitches, podcasts, virtual and live presentations, social media, and virtually every other communication/marketing channel known to civilization.

In the last decade or two alone we’ve either heard about or adopted metaverse, blockchain, crypto, cloud, big data, Internet of things, data mining, machine learning, bandwidth, quantum computing, digital transformation…the list goes on and on.

These days, however, one can hardly access any medium without seeing or hearing the words Artificial Intelligence (AI). In some form AI has been around for years, but recent advances in this technology is drawing headlines.

In my rudimentary, Coles notes interpretation, AI is a machine’s ability to simulate human behaviour/thinking and use algorithms trained on data to learn, adapt and solve a problem, as well as deliver highly personalized, specific information well beyond the scope of what was previously available. Clear as mud?

Pragmatically, AI is being used in multiple disciplines including: image and facial recognition in security systems; autonomous vehicles; grading student papers; inventory management; disease detection; wildlife conservation; traffic management; chatbots; gaming; producing reports; and endless other applications.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates believes that AI is the most revolutionary technology in decades. In an op-ed published earlier this year, Gates said, “The development of AI is as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet, and the mobile phone. It will change the way people work, learn, travel, get health care, and communicate with each other.”  

In Gates’ commentary, the word travel jumped out at me for obvious reasons. I recognize that you may already be well down the path of embracing AI to advance your tourism business’ objectives, but admittedly I’m still trying to fully comprehend what it is, never mind consider the implications for associations like TIABC. To that end, earlier this week I attended a virtual workshop that provided topline insights into AI that not only provided a solid base from which to expand my knowledge but will ultimately help inform TIABC’s strategic plan and priorities in the coming years.

If AI is not on your radar yet, I suggest that it should be. But don’t take it from me, look at what organizations like Destinations International are saying. In their DestinationNext 2023 Future Study, survey respondents ranked AI as number one of 50 trends that DMOs and the tourism industry in general need to consider, citing that artificial intelligence will become increasingly prevalent at an accelerated pace. As for strategy, DMOs ranked increasing knowledge of innovative technologies 11th out of 50 in terms of priority.

The possibilities are exciting but also scary. Goldman Sachs predicts that 300 million jobs will be lost or degraded by AI. The Daily Mail suggests that 20 percent of all jobs will disappear. On the other hand, technology experts maintain that Artificial Intelligence will not replace jobs but rather ‘tasks‘. In some respects it could help mitigate some of the workforce challenges in the tourism industry even though we are a high touch, personalized service delivery sector.

I look forward to seeing and embracing how AI will benefit the visitor economy and how we can maximize this cutting-edge technology to accomplish our respective and collective objectives.  

In a podcast interview with a couple of senior industry colleagues earlier this week, I raised the subject of Artificial Intelligence… which is not something I’ve broached with previous guests. Judging by their response, I suspect it will be a key topic in every TIABC Voice of Tourism Podcast for the foreseeable future.

Walt Judas

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