Tourism is a large contributor to many national economies; according to statistics prior to the pandemic, the sector would directly contribute on average with 4.4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and 21.5% of service exports in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries [OECD Tourism trend Policies, 2020].

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the actions and countermeasures being undertaken to limit its spread, have altogether triggered an unprecedented crisis in the tourism economy, whose impact is spreading throughout the entire tourism ecosystem and beyond, with foreseen long-lasting societal and economic effects. Beyond the tangible and short-term consequences to the tourism sector, the pandemic is expected to have a knock-on effect on travellers’ behaviour. Travellers will need to be reassured of safety during travels as well as at their destinations. To accomplish this, a concerted set of actions involving both private and public sector has to be undertaken to elevate new safety, health and hygiene standards, and give visibility of well-thought processes to objectively assess those.

Despite the challenges, such crisis creates the opportunity to rethink tourism and promote a structural transformation of this sector towards a stronger, more sustainable, and resilient tourism economy. Connectivity and digital transformation are required for the sector to initiate such a purposeful innovative journey while responding to the COVID-19 challenges. Initial indications are that the current crisis is accelerating the digital transformation of the sector. Digital solutions are being developed to create live tourism experiences and will be increasingly deployed to support virtual experience for remote destinations.

In this context, ESA is planning to issue an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for the development of space-based services enabled by innovative digital solutions to support tourism and travel industry in their transition to the new normal.

To apply for the call, please visit the website of ESA Space Solution.