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Social tourism will contribute to the sustainability of domestic travel

Guests provide a wealth of sensitive guest to hotels making them an enticing target for cybercriminals. Recent high-profile data breaches have showcased just how ever the biggest names in the industry are not immune to hacking, but what are hoteliers doing to ensure that guest information is as secure as possible? And what further action can be taken? Alex Love finds out.

tels are under attack from increasingly sophisticated hackers, intent on stealing sensitive data, such as guests’ credit card information and identification documents.

In the last decade, there have been around 30 data breaches for high-profile chains including Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG and even Trump Hotel Collection.Consequently, hundreds ofmillions of customers have had personal detailsstolen and billing information compromised.

There is a belief among cybersecurity professionals that hotels are either not doing enough to combat this growing threat or usinginadequate solutions.

“The challenge with hotel chains in general is that they tend to be looking at running things as low-cost as possible,” says Joseph Carson, cybersecurity expert and chief security scientist at Thycotic.

“At the same time, I don't think that they see the value of the data that they are actually collecting and processing. And that ultimately becomes the major issue.When you don't see the value yourself, but attackers do, then they'll take advantage of your failure to protect it.”

Cyber criminals are continuously seeking opportunities to exploit. Not only can a data breach harm a hotel brand’s reputation, but owners will also be hit with hefty penalties from authorities. The EU’s GDPR law has imposed tighter rules on how companies treat customer data and how long they can hold onto it, with considerable fines imposed on those found in breach of regulations

“Hotels hold millions of pieces of data, which can have a great value on the dark markets. Therefore, when hotels are not properly protected, criminal hackers will continually exploit wherever possible in order to extract whatever they can,” explains Jake Moore, cyber security specialist for ESET.

The sudden nature of the first lockdown left once-frequent travellers itching to go on holiday again

As restrictions begin to ease in some parts of the world, many destinations will experience a domestic tourism boom due to international travel restrictions, health fears and financial hardship.

Despite the short-term increase, challenges lie ahead for domestic tourism once the after-effects of the pandemic begin to subside, as many tourists will look to travel abroad once again.

Social tourism offers a sustainable long-term solution by providing people from vulnerable or disadvantaged groups an opportunity to enjoy tourism they otherwise would have not been able to.

Thus, providing sustained revenue streams for domestic providers and long-term social benefits for the wider society.

Hotels must expect to be the target of repeated breach attempts.

Social tourism enhances domestic travel and benefits society

In recent times, national governments have created social tourism initiatives that have increased domestic visitation and expenditure.

In Spain, for example, IMERSO (Insititute for Elderly and Social Services) offers subsidised holidays for the elderly to a range of destinations during off-peak seasons, this helps out coastal towns that are often impacted by seasonality.

Although this is just one example, subsidised holidays are becoming more common in Europe.

In Belgium, the tourist board VisitBelgium operates a scheme called ‘Everyone deserves a vacation’; the scheme enables people from disadvantaged backgrounds to enjoy subsidised domestic holidays and day trips.

Day trips may include zoos, museums and adventure activities, enhancing educational opportunities and personal enrichment.

The tourist board – in partnership with thousands of accommodation and attraction operators – helps to boost domestic tourism throughout the country. Families can apply for large discounts based on several criteria, such as income, employment and housing.

A worthy strategy to embark upon

As many countries are looking to find new and innovative ways to boost their respective economies, subsidised tourism could be an option for many. The demand for tourism is extremely high, however financial concerns are problematic.

According to a GlobalData Q1 2021 Global Consumer Survey, 32% of respondents said they were ‘extremely concerned’ with their financial situation. In the same survey, 22% said they were ‘anxious’ and 20% said they were ‘stressed’, highlighting the economic and mental strain that the pandemic has placed on many consumers.

Therefore, a project that helps support people from lower socio-economic backgrounds could not only increase domestic tourism but improve mental wellbeing, personal enrichment and family stability.

The impact of the pandemic has added strain on to many families. With more than a year of restrictions and financial hardship, social tourism is a way to give disadvantaged families or individuals a break, as well as improving national economic recovery.

For Travel and Tourism industry data, comment and analysis,

visit GlobalData's Tourism Intelligence Centre.

Main image: Accor

Credit: Stratos Brilakis |