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Keynote: Industry Insights on Opportunities and Challenges of Digital Visitor Management in Times of Corona


On 20 January 2021, Outdooractive presented a keynote at the ENTER21 eConference, an annual event on information and communication technologies in travel and tourism, organised by the International Federation of IT and Travel & Tourism (IFITT) to bring the worldwide research community and the tourism industry together.

For the first time in the history of the conference, the complete event was organised as a digital format. In their talk Dr. Dominik Huber (Research Manager) and Martin Soutschek (Director R&D) from Outdooractive presented concepts and solutions that can support destination management organisations (DMOs) to better understand visitor movement patterns and to take action for sustainable visitor management.

In collaboration with various research partners and student groups, Outdooractive’s R&D unit developed a number of innovative concepts for smart visitor management solutions that were showcased and explained during their talk, including  a recommender service for sustainable tourism based on Artificial Intelligence technologies (AIR), an AR based gamification tool and a Digital Ranger, using data from Digitize the Planet to inform users about rules and regulations in protected areas and sustainable behaviour in nature.

While the tourism sector of our economy is still heavily affected by the Corona pandemic and will continue to face significant challenges in the times ahead, the current situation also provides opportunities for tourism service providers to change. Prof. Dirk Schmücker from FH Westküste and NIT considered the Corona pandemic as a catalyst for the digital transformation and the development of smart visitor management solutions. A key message that was highlighted by many speakers and participants at the ENTER21 eConference was that leadership and a shared vision for the future of tourism, based on a sustainable balance of environmental, economic and social aspects is needed now. This requires all tourism economy stakeholders to get organised and collaborate to successfully recover from the crisis.

With regard to digital visitor management processes, Outdooractive believes that high quality physical tourism infrastructures in the destination and sophisticated data infrastructures are required as a basis for effectively putting quantitative and qualitative visitor management strategies into practice. By integrating and processing data from IOT sensors, web platforms and other sources, visitor streams can be predicted and combined with data on alternative travel options. Recommendations for less crowded places and alternative times can then help to manage and control tourism hotspots.

The principle of open data becomes key to provide equal access to relevant visitor data flows for all players in the market to foster innovation. Outdooractive can already create added value for sustainable visitor management by offering tourism destinations a platform with cutting-edge technologies and tools, quality content and up-to-date contextual information about the destination. This provides important information and guidance for guests, no matter whether these are day trip visitors from closeby who seek recreation during the Corona pandemic or overseas tourists in a post Corona world.

Our Key Learnings from the Corona Pandemic: