In May 2015, the Commission for Europe of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), who oversees the worldwide tourism sector, got together in Haifa, Israel for their 58th meeting to discuss tourism policies and governance. The UNWTO assists its member states in the development of public policy objectives on climate change strategies, employment in the tourism sector, quality and customer satisfaction.
This year’s meeting followed a seminar on Mobile Technologies for Improving Tourism Experiences showcasing best practices and innovations in this area. The seminar was partially introducing location-based services (LBS) and location-based games (LBG) for travel and tourism. The first part of the seminar showcased best practices such as the Austrian Snapshot, a gamified app from the Austrian Tourist Board to attract Asian visitors traveling to the Alpine country. Besides, JiTT a travel guide app curating content from its users and Barcelona a leading destination for smart tourism got introduced to the European delegates.
In this context, Jessika Weber, a PhD student at the School of Tourism researching on LB augmented reality games, got invited as an expert on this topic to give an introduction into the innovations of location-based games in tourism. Jessika was presenting her research, which explores how tourist experiences can be enhanced using playful elements. She was leading the panel on games best practices including geocaching, one of the most well-known and established LBGs, Google’s Ingress, the most played LBG with more than 11 Mio players worldwide and Ojoo, an impressive gamification app for tour guiding to explore tourism destinations.
The UNWTO and the Israeli Ministry of Tourism named this event a great success that received lots of positive feedback from its European Member States. “We made the tourism world aware of the opportunities games provide in travel and tourism. It was a great pleasure and honour to speak in front of this audience and we hope that we’ll turn the world into a playful place, together with tourism decision makers and pioneering game ideas.” Jessika said after the event.