Interactive Innovation for Tourism & Sustainable Development

EU Industry Day Tourism

On 22nd February I took part in the workshop “Investing in the European Tourism of Tomorrow” organized by NECSTouR which gathered at the European Committee of the Regions in Brussels, the Digitalisation and Safety for Tourism partnership and some of the main Tourism stakeholders in the framework of the European Industry Day.

Mr Patrick Torrent, President of NECSTouR, reflected on what are the 3 key elements of the Tourism of Tomorrow? On the view of NECSTour he pointed out three key future areas: resilience, digitalization and sustainability.

During the workshop and also in social networks (particularly Twitter) took place an intense debate on building public-private investment to boost tourism business resilience, harnessing skills development in the sector and entrepreneurship. Digitalization is seen as the key driver of the investment linked to cross-cutting research & innovation to solve tourism challenges.

On my view, the opportunity for coming years for Tourism investment resides on enhancing synergies with cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder perspective making partnerships with technology sector, creative industries and startups.

The Tourism sector is in a ‘cross-road’ and in order to tackle the challenges that is already facing (the future is now) has to undertake an open innovation process and focus on rediscovering the very idea of ‘travel’ for the XXI century tourist.

This process requires innovation brokers to make possible an interactive innovation and effective cooperation among multiple stakeholders (Tourism Boards, City Halls, Tourism Associations, Local Citizens Associations, Creative Industries, Startup Hubs, etc.), citizens and tourists and capacity building facilitators for the skill development needed (particularly on digitalization, audience development and destination branding, experience design) to co-build ‘creative tourism’ strategies able to deliver sustainable and inclusive development for local economies and for its people.

Economía Creativa has a key expertise (impact studies, research and capacity building) on creative tourism, audience development and storytelling applied to culturla and creative tourism


In praise of a Pan-European Ecosystem for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Declaration Jan

On this year’s World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, the WEF’s Digital Leaders of Europe –a network of digital experts and start-up ecosystem buildiers from the public and private sector across Europe has published a Declaration on a pan-European Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem (work in progress, to be further discussed and refined during the Startup Europe Week 2018. The full declaration can be accessed on:

The Declaration, which I fully support, contains the following 9 points:

1. Switch from a local to a pan-European approach

2. Increase collaboration between start-ups and corporates

3. Foster European venture capital markets

4. Encourage the public sector to be an innovation role model

5. Support maximum access to data, protecting only what needs to be protected

6. Build a world-class talent pool, foster mobility, and attract international talent

7. Boost digital education and upskilling

8. Build on inclusivity and leverage diversity in Europe’s innovation landscape

9. Address shortcomings in Europe’s infrastructure and boost interoperability

The nine points cover comprehensively the key barriers, challenges and opportunities to harness the development of a pan-European innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. Indeed it is essential to switch from a local perspective to a pan-European approach; even more, to a global approach. The Declaration states that “Entrepreneurs often start in a local context, but need to move to develop their capabilities” and also on point 6 emphasizes the need to foster mobility and attract international talent. Despite the importance of entrepreneurs mobility for improving their capabilities, it is essential to develop a pan-European/Global mindset among entrepreneurs and start-up founders that will enable them to conceive pan-European business models, to identify needs, to have a regular exchange in a daily basis at pan-European level.

There are already many entrepreneurs and startups who have this vision; I am, modestly, among them; since the moment I have startup Economía Creativa I chosen the domain .eu; on a regular week I have interaction by email, video-conference, Facebook, etc. with colleagues from around Europe and beyond for co-creating projects and developing partnerships; I have delivered field work, workshops, conferences and labs in many European countries.

However the lack of a pan-European legal framework, together with the not real existence of a EU Single Market in terms of banking and venture capital are important barriers to overcome. In order to develop a pan-European innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem is a necessary condition to create a pan-European framework for entrepreneurs and startups that will provide a social security, equality in terms of taxation (at the moment, a freelance from Spain pays considerably more taxes than a freelance from the UK or Slovenia), and be inclusive in terms of gender and social background, creating an ecosystem in which the driver would be the talent and not just the social class of origin or the contacts.

The declaration also highlights the need of Increasing collaboration between start-ups and corporates ‘establish European funds or tax incentives for pilots between startups and corporates’. I have already written about the need of increasing collaboration between startups and corporates on my post in July 2017 ‘Harnessing innovation culture at corporations’ However, I suggest that the Declaration should also include on this point more accessibility of European Funds for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial projects (not only for start-ups); and similar for the tax incentives, which should be extensive also to Corporations and SMEs who hire entrepreneurs/freelancers on innovative projects.

This Declaration of the WEF’s Digital Leaders of Europe represents a great step towards a pan-European innovation and entreprenearship ecosystem. Since it is a work in progress it would be a great opportunity to open a call for proposals / recommendations from entrepreneurs, startups and public sector involve in the promotion of entrepreneurial ecosystem from across Europe. I look forward to it!

News: Taking part at European Creative Industries Summit and EU Social Investment High level meeting in Brussels 

On 27 November I have had an intensive amd fruitful Agenda in Brussels. In the morning I have attended the High Level Conference on “the EU Investment Plan: investing in social care and support” organized by European Policy Centre (EPC) and European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), bringing together investors, social services, public authorities and policy-makers. The Conference aimed to address the current underinvestment into social care and support infrastructure throughout the European Union. 

Opening the Conference, Herman Van Rompuy, President Emeritus of the European Council and President of EPC, stated that “Europe is poorly prepared to face the investment gap in social care and support” and called for “collective solutions to be developed”. In response, Jim Crowe, President of EASPD, highlited the need for the “creation of a European Strategy for Quality Social Infrastructure”.

In the afternoon I joined the 7th European Creative Industries Summit in which I represented Economía Creativa. The Summit which has comgregated leaders from EU Institutions, Creative Agencies and Hubs, Entrepreneurs and Policy makers from Germany, Austria, Italy, UK, Netherlands, Spain, amomg other EU countries, focused on the trends and opportunities for cooperation both cross-countries and across fields. 

News: Speaking at Cultour+ International Conference on Cultural & Tourism Management in Italy


Cultour Conference Antonio Carlos Ruiz Jusytna Molendowska-Ruiz Economia Creativa.jpgI have presented the scientific contribution ‘Creative storytelling for European Pilgrimage Routes’ Audience Development’ at Cultour International Conference Cultural Management and Governance for European Pilgrimage Routes and Heritage Tourism held in Cori, Italy, 3-4 November 2017 in the framework of a cross-countries Eurasmus Plus Project, co-funded by European Commission.

European Pilgrimage routes are a unique intangible cultural heritage; a source of territorial cohesion; a bridge for mutual understanding and self-discovery; they represent an asset for sustainable tourism and preserving the environment. They have multiple significances (religious, cultural, historical) and impacts on economic, social and cultural development.
On this context, regions, tourism boards and other stakeholders involved in the promotion and preservation of pilgrimage routes have the opportunity of developing pilgrimage routes’ audience, communicating and engaging with pilgrims and wider audience to promote them as sustainable tourism and development catalyst.
This contribution aims to present a model to apply audience development methodology for European pilgrimage routes audience development, drawing on the literature on storytelling as well as theory on creative economy, platform and transformation economy. This methodology is based on establishing a Route/Destination Storytelling Stakeholders Network (DSSN) in which stakeholders from tourism sector involved on the promotion/management of the European Pilgrimage route, both public and private, are to be represented together with actors from creative industries, ICT, researchers, scientific, artists and local inhabitants. The DSSN will consits on a web 3.0 platform and will combine both offline and online activities

News: Speaking at Creative Forum Ukraine

I have had the pleasure to be senior expert /speaker at Creative Forum Ukraine organized by Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, EaP Culture Partnership, EU Delegation to Ukraine and British Council, held in Kyiv on 19-20 October 2017.

I have provided input on the Business Consultation Panel ‘Culture and Creative Industries youth empowerment and gender equality: best practices from Social Corporate Responsibility and socially orientated art projecs’. 

And I have been responsible for the skills development workshop ‘Audience and Market Developmemt for CCI and Creative Businesses. reaching more youth’ delivered for 80 cultural managers and entrepreneurs.

News: 2nd UNWTO Global Conference on Talent Development in Tourism: Strategies for Competitive Destinations

2nd Global Conference on Talend Develpment UNWTO.jpg

I have had the pleasure to take part at the 2nd UNWTO Global Conference on Talent Development in Tourism: Strategies for Competitive Destinations that has taken place in my hometown, in Marbella (Spain) between 8-10 October 2017.

The 2nd UNWTO Global Conference on Talent Development in Tourism has brought together policy makers and experts from public tourism administrations, private entities in addition to world renowned academics, to debate the decisive role of talent development and education in defining the competiveness of tourism destinations. The presentations were complemented by a series of interactive working sessions giving all participants the opportunity to interact and share ideas. The conference also seeked to build awareness within the public and private sectors and among other tourism stakeholders about the importance of attracting and retaining young talent.

Affiliate members Antonio Carlos Ruiz.png

During the Conference I took also part at the UNWTO Affiliate Members Meeting in which were presented the priorities for sustainable tourism policies and strategic projects for 2019.

On the following official video you can see a summary of the event

NEWS: Eastern Europe Initiatives Congress Lublin, Poland

Very productive and inspiring to take part at Eastern Europe Initiatives Congress in Lublin, Poland 🇵🇱 exploring 🇪🇺 European Union cooperation with the Eastern Parnership Countries 🇺🇦🇲🇩🇧🇾🇦🇲🇬🇪🇰🇿 

The Congress has had a very ambitious and forward thinking agenda including a OECD Seminar on Public Services Delivery and Decentralization and Sectoral Panels on Business and Innovation, Culture and Tourism 

During the Congress, City of Lublin has received the Europe Prize goven by Council of Europe joining a selected Network of cities which promote European values and spirit.
Lots to follow up, keep tuned!