Structural change describes an economic development where employment decreases in one sector while it increases in another. The Swiss tourism sector is also affected by such a change: Although tourism in Switzerland is still an important employer, the number of people employed in the sector has decreased over the last twenty years. This is especially the case in alpine regions where tourism has a long history as a local economic driver.
There are many possible drivers of accelerated structural change like changes in the economic or political environment (e.g., exchange rate or second home initiative), changes in travel behavior, climate change, or digitalization. Due to the specific spatial character of the structural change in Switzerland and its importance for the tourism sector, we focus on such factors that are likely to cause structural change and estimate their impacts.
The on-going digital transformation leads to large structural changes in the economy, the society, and politics. Recent developments in the information technology are key drivers of this transformation that can lead to innovations regarding products, and processes, or social innovations. Together with the University of St.Gallen, HES-SO in Sierre, and the HSLU in Luzern, we developed a comprehensive report on „Digitalisierung im Schweizer Tourismus“ for the Staatssekretariats für Wirtschaft (SECO).
Digitalization leads to a less sharp distinction of sectors in the economy. Companies become more and more hybrids of producing industrial entities and service providers that are often characterized by «Co-Creation» or «Co-Production». In Tourism, this leads to a generation of customer value by stakeholders far beyond the actual sector. Therefore, the value added cannot be attributed to a specific sector anymore. Hence, digitalization affects structural change by changes in demand, globalization, network effects and innovation.
The scope of the economy moves from a macro structure to a micro structure accompanied by an increasing polarization of multinational entities and small business entities. This also holds in the tourism sector where even smaller entities (peer-to-peer) complement the already rather small entity structure. Knowledge in the context of digitalization offers the changes of gaining market power. Consequently, education in tourism must adapt and focus more on digitalization.