On the 30th of March, a workshop dedicated to the specific topic of semantics for the Tourism data space was organized by DG GROW & DIGIT. In this workshop, we focused on key enablers for data sharing and worked towards a consensus whether common data models and vocabularies are needed to achieve minimal interoperability.
We gave the floor to experts on tourism data from public services, who explained the possibilities and limits of aggregating data on tourism based on concrete use cases. Administrations and agencies on a national, regional and local level, aggregate and build services around tourism data, are all facing the same challenges and opportunities in regard to semantics.
For example, multiple participants referred to the challenge of expressing “capacity” of accommodation, as it might be described by how many individuals a hotel can host, whereas another provider interprets the figure in regard to how many beds are offered. There is a definition of capacity of tourism establishments agreed by the European regulation on Tourism statistics, but the official statistics and the definitions used on the practical level are not always aligned. This concrete example, especially since the COVID pandemic, highlights the need to clarify the definitions and boundaries of key concepts from the tourism sector and to support the data sharing of private and public actors at all levels.
Of course, initiatives such as Schema.org and W3C have already developed common semantics to express concepts and realities from the tourism sector. Regarding statistics (such as capacity), national statistics institutes and Eurostat have agreed definitions, which however are not necessarily considered by other tourism stakeholders. A discussion with stakeholders from EU MS, therefore, is needed to see whether these initiatives are sufficiently well aligned, and if they take into account multilingualism and EU values.
From the input shared by the speakers and the participants, the following first conclusions have been drawn:
- Common data model(s) at European level would be highly valuable. The exact scope of the model(s) has to be defined but the approach should be pragmatic and build upon existing specifications. The multilingualism, visibility and governance of this model are important aspects for which the European Commission can play a role together with the various stakeholders.
- The creation of guidelines and support on how to implement this model to guarantee the compliance of various actors at different levels is key.
- The broad consensus expressed during the workshop on the importance of a minimal level of interoperability will be used as an important input when creating the European data space for tourism.
From these conclusions results a first step for the European Commission, which is to harmonise existing models and standards for tourism data to offer an EU-level minimal semantic interoperability layer to be reused by different stakeholders.
The agenda of the workshop:
- Welcome - Misa Labarile (GROW)
- Role of semantics for data spaces, and tourism in particular - Seth van Hooland (DIGIT)
- Case from Flanders - Eveline Vlassenroot (Digitaal Vlaanderen), Susy Van Baelen (Provincie Antwerpen) & Seppe Santens (Westtoer)
- Case from Finland - Annakaisa Ojala (Business Finland)
- Case from France - Pascale Vinot (Fédération nationale des organismes institutionnels de tourisme)
- Case from the Netherlands - Ype Poortinga & Merijn de Boer (Touripedia)
- Co-creation: identifying use cases for exchanging & reusing tourism data
- Link between existing tourism statistics and the newly emerging data sources that could contribute to official tourism statistics - Christophe Demunter (ESTAT)
- Conclusion and next steps - Misa Labarile (GROW)