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Innovation typology in tourism

conditions (Hall and Williams 2008). In this regard, collaboration has been identified as a fundamental factor to cope with changing conditions. Moreover, it improves the competitive advantage of destinations. Besides, competitiveness is enhanced by increasing productivity and quality through the development of innovations that add product value.

4.2. Necessary Actors in the Tourism Sector

The structure of the sector influences innovation performance in tourism. In this matter, there is a common belief that innovations are mainly developed by firms. Although innovative performance in firms certainly benefits economic development, the labour of other actors in the tourism sector is also relevant.

Accordingly, innovation performance in tourism is improved by the interaction of several actors from inside and outside the sector: tourism firms, Knowledge Intensive Business Services (KIBS), universities and research centres, government and other public institutions, tourists, and the local population. Thus, innovation is based on knowledge flows between these actors. Accordingly, in this section the innovation characteristics of each actor are studied in detail.

Tourism Firms

In this category are included individual firms as well as groups of associated firms in the tourism industry, which are the main innovators of the sector. Indeed, economic development in the sector is based on the activities carried out by firms. Collaboration between tourism firms is necessary to develop the tourism product. Nevertheless, it has been pointed out that in some destinations tourism services are offered independently and that firms are not aware of the whole product (Sundbo et al. 2007). In other destinations, however, firms may be part of an innovation system, together with other private and public organizations.

Sundbo et al. (2007) identify three organizational forms in the tourism industry that are highly innovative. First, large firms have more capacity to innovate, mainly because they can invest more on innovation processes. Next, SME’s in collaborative environments. Finally, entrepreneurs, which are SME’s that introduce new products and thus motivate other firms to invest in innovation processes in order to stay competitive. Given that the sector is mainly structured in SME’s, collaborative environments are of major relevance in the tourism industry.

Regarding entrepreneurs, they create new business opportunities and motivate change processes. Furthermore, in order to bring the product into the market, they create linkages with other organizations and institutions from inside and outside destinations. Entrepreneurship thus influences innovation performance in the whole destination.

Regarding the processes of innovation in tourism firms, interaction between individuals plays a major role. Tourism firms seldom perform research in the traditional sense, although they carry out development processes. Therefore, most of innovations


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