Interview: Silvia Tenazinha
How can tourism support economic development?
SILVIA TENAZINHA: Tourism is one of the fastest ways to spread wealth within an economy, because it does not require large investment or manufacturing plants to operate. There is a lot of regional inequality in Argentina and it is our responsibility as Argentine companies to invest accordingly. Online travel companies can help develop inland economies by bringing more tourism to the provinces. In this context, the arrival of low-cost airlines is a positive development as the possibility of air travel is now a reality for many people who had, until recently, not even considered it. Furthermore, we have efficient and competent public authorities overseeing the sector, with long-term policy objectives to develop our tourism. Nevertheless, we need to ensure the industry has a stable regulatory framework.
What is the role of technology in the sector?
TENAZINHA: Although, the impact of technology is still in its early stages, there are examples of companies that apply advanced technologies to their internal operations. Furthermore, different customers need to be addressed in different ways. For those who use technology on a daily basis, a traditional travel agency may not be as important as an online platform. In the same way, face-to-face interaction may be more relevant for those who do not use technology regularly. In any case, the human element will never disappear, as trust depends mainly on having direct contact when needed. Therefore, applying an omnichannel strategy, that unites the best aspects of each approach, is crucial.
How do you assess the challenges facing the industry in terms of skilled human capital?
TENAZINHA: Beyond the efforts being made by the government to train more professionals in the tourism sector, human resources require stronger investment from companies. There are two types of training that are important, one of a formal nature within the general industry and another at a more local level, for extensive field knowledge of the provinces themselves. The first of these has a greater scope and impact, and requires professionalisation in the industry. In order to increase the capacity of the sector we need to upskill our human resources. As the sector reaches its full potential, good quality jobs will be created and there will be positive flow-on effects for the industry and the country.
Is there scope for tourism firms to expand overseas?
TENAZINHA: Industry players should not consider flights merely as a commodity; rather, the experience of the customer is the decisive factor. The online travel agency business model is one of the most complex systems there is. This is because it handles an expansive inventory in real-time. Furthermore, it is not a product where all the stock information is available and where production and storage processes are standardised.
Travellers can choose between different seats, flights and companies, and all these factors influence the final objective, which is that the client is fully satisfied with the flight experience. Given the number of available seats, flights and airlines, the operational complexity of online travel services grows exponentially.
In what way has the relationship with airline companies evolved in Argentina?
TENAZINHA: We recently experienced an important change in our existing service agreements with airline companies. An open dialogue is now more important than ever in order to reach new agreements that benefit both sides. Today many airlines do not have direct channels to sell 100% of their seats. Therefore, we must face this challenge in the best possible way, namely by uniting our efforts for the development of the sector and the country – essentially we must all cooperate. The development of the Argentine tourism industry will not come about through a single player, rather it will be through the joint efforts of all parties involved.
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