Center for Regional Economic Development (CRED)


Core competence: Touristic structural change

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.

What are the challenges for the tourism economy due to digitalization?

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).

CRED: Touristischer Strukturwandel / Touristic structural change
Figure 1: Causing changes (●) and developments (◦) in the structural change in tourism

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.

Current projects

Working title Research question
The cornerstones of hospitableness at the hotel and destination level
In the context of the experience economy, hospitableness is increasingly seen as an excitement factor for tourism service providers that allows them to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Hospitableness should be seen as a multidimensional concept, where the place in which the interaction between host and guest occurs plays a crucial role. Thus, this paper empirically investigates which hotel- and destination-specific factors are determinants of the level of hospitableness for hotels.
Monika Bandi Tanner, Sarah Julia Martz-Hämmerli and Romina Weber
The effect of local economic and touristic structures on the resilience of the local economy How do local touristic structures influence the resilience of the local economy in the course of the corona crisis?
Maximilian von Ehrlich, Marcus Roller
Tourism Think Tank about structural change
Current issues of the structural change in Swiss tourism
Monika Bandi Tanner, Marcus Roller
Digitalization in Swiss Tourism: Chances, Challenges, and Implications Which chances, challenges, and implications exist for the Swiss tourism industry due to digitalization?
Monika Bandi Tanner, Therese Lehmann Friedli, Christian Laesser (Uni St. Gallen), Roland Schegg (HES-SO), Andreas Liebrich (ITW Luzern)