Tourism innovations and competitiveness in times of crisis

María José Andrade Suárez, Antoni Parera Olm, José Francisco Valls Giménez

Research output: Not indexed journal articleArticle


In the current economic crisis, nations try to identify those sectors that can best help them find the path back to growth. Spain hopes that tourism will play this role. The problem is that the industry has been losing competitiveness over the last few years as a result of the structural problems arising from mass, low-cost tourism. Innovation seems to be the only way out of this morass and of improving competitiveness and leading the country out of recession. This paper looks at the relationship between innovation and competitiveness by identifying the nature and degree of innovation applied by Spanish firms in the tourism sector. This field work found ten dimensions of innovation. Analysis of these revealed that Spanish companies tend to see innovation in a reactive way (cost-cutting, staff cuts, greater management and process control) rather than in an active fashion (creating products, re-engineering the business model, internationalisation). Thus the study makes both academic and practical contributions. On the one hand, the empirical work in the management field in the various tourism sub-sectors (hotels, restaurants, transport, intermediation, leisure and similar) allows one to relate innovation with competitiveness - in which the former is vital for the latter (Larios, 1999; Porter, 1990; Chesnais, 1986). On the other hand, given the difficulties for companies in general and tourism firms in particular in articulating an innovation policy, the findings yield innovation models that could be applied to other Spanish and European companies.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationEnlightening Tourism: A Pathmaking Journal
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


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