Sustainable Tourism Development through Knowledge Transfer

Jana Kalabisova and Lucie Plzakova

Introduction

Innovation performance is generally determined by the quality of the national innovation system, represented by a network of public and private sector institutions, whose activities and mutual relations ensure the process of creation, transfer, and use of new knowledge within the country. According to Klimentovska and Karlovarsky Rozvojovy Institut (2010), innovation is the result of systematic interactions between the individual participants in the national innovation system and their mutual links at regional, national, and supranational levels. An important role in the innovation process is then played not only by institutions of higher education and research organizations, but also by enterprises, their suppliers, and customers. And, last but not least, the process is directly influenced by the quality of the institutions and the environment where the innovation process takes place (ERDF, 2010).

Innovation is the process of making changes to something established by introducing something new. It can be radical or incremental, and it can apply to products, processes, and services. All changes, large or small, to an organization, are classified as innovation (O’Sullivan and Dooley, 2008). Innovations can be expressed in quality improvement. We can improve the quality of products, processes, and services, but in the hospitality sector, this is often a matter of subjective judgment and guests end up by making their own judgment about the quality and value of the overall guest experience (Ford et al., 2011).

The Czech Republic is currently undergoing a transition from an efficiency- driven economy to an innovation-driven economy. It has been achieving its economic growth mainly by investing in the expansion of production capacities while adopting modern technologies developed in economically more advanced countries.

To maintain future competitiveness, it will be necessary to continuously push the technological limits of production while introducing innovations in the form of new products, technological procedures, changes to work management, or new ways of selling products and services (EEP and ERDF, 2010).

The Institute of Hospitality Management in Prague acted as a knowledge provider for a specific provider of accommodation services in a project realized as part of the grant (innovation vouchers) of The Business Development Agency of the Karlovy Vary Region.

The main objective of the project was a reduction in seasonal fluctuations for the provider and an increase in its competitiveness. It dealt with the transfer of knowhow and its application in the business environment, which has no regular access to such tools. The objectives were a description of the initial situation, a proposal for a methodology, and finally a demonstration of the transfer of knowledge from the academic to the business sector in the field of sustainable tourism through innovation vouchers supported by the public sector.

The specific objectives of the chapter in the case examined were:

  • 1. Determining the drivers of innovation;
  • 2. Identification of internal and external barriers for innovation;
  • 3. Description of the innovation process;
  • 4. Definition of innovation networks.
 
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