Tourism innovation networks: A regional approach
Authors: Brandão, F., Costa, C. and Buhalis, D.
Journal: European Journal of Tourism Research
In the last decades, the innovation process experienced a significant evolution. From the early atomist models, the economy is moving towards systemic approaches based on interactive processes, strongly attached to the territories. Innovation networks are proliferating as the most suited framework for destinations to achieve a high innovation performance. However, there has been little research on the structure and dynamics of tourism innovation networks and how they can foster regional innovation. This paper applies Social Network Analysis to measure and identify the dynamics of cooperation within institutional tourism innovation networks and the role they play on tourism innovation. The study was applied to two Portuguese regions, Douro and Aveiro, where the top managers of institutions responsible for developing or supporting tourism innovation were surveyed. Results demonstrate that different social structures and patterns of cooperation create distinct impacts on regional innovation. It is concluded that tourism destinations characterised by diversified networks, i.e. networks comprising actors from different geographical locations and with distinct typologies, are in a better position to achieve a higher innovation performance. The paper advances strategic recommendations for tourism organisations to increase destinations’ competitiveness, by further developing the necessary conditions for innovation to occur.