Yet another prestigious international award has been bestowed upon tourism professor Marianna Sigala, who arrived in Australia about two years ago and was recently appointed director of the Centre for Tourism and Leisure Management at the School of Management at the University of South Australia.
Dr Sigala received the Best IFITTalk of the Year Award during a gala ceremony held at the Palazzo Brancaccio in Rome last month.

IFITT is one of the leading e Tourism knowledge-hubs for tourism and technology experts in industry and academia, and its events have proved to be a great success in informing participants about current trends and enabling them to network and discuss future challenges.

“I feel very honoured to have received this award,” says Dr Sigala, “but above all I consider myself incredibly privileged for the opportunity to participate and put together the biggest panel of industry and academic experts representing all tourism sectors in order to discuss the emerging issues of the sharing economy phenomenon.”

Organised by the International Federation for Information Technology and Travel & Tourism (IFITT), the 24th ENTER2017 eTourism Conference was held in Rome from 23-27 January in collaboration with the Roma Tre University.

The conference attracted more than 300 delegates from 39 countries, both with industry and academic backgrounds who excel in the education and tourism industry and those who were invited to share their knowledge, experiences and academic research findings on issues relating to world tourism, the academy and education, as well as the importance of technologies in creating online relationships worldwide.

The federation extensively discusses and concentrates on the economic, consumer and organisational impacts of eTourism through events such as the ENTER conference, workshops and IFITT-supported publications.

This year’s conference was organised in three tracks: research, destinations and industry. It featured world-class keynote speakers from internationally-renowned universities, major companies such as Club Med, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Expedia, and Amadeus, along with representatives of innovative tourism destinations. IFITT members include researchers and practitioners of eTourism who treasure the power of networking and global knowledge and exchange information for improving their competitiveness and innovation.

The conference provided a worldwide forum where the attendees from academic, industry, government, and other organisations were given the opportunity to actively exchange, share, and challenge state-of-the-art research and industrial case studies on the application of information and communication technologies in travel and tourism.

The main criteria and contributing factors for Dr Sigala’s award included the number of participants at the IFITTalk event, the content of the lecture and its contribution to the tourism industry, as well as the quality, quantity of online visibility and promotion of the event through press releases, online posts and online discussions.

“We explored the ‘sharing economy’ phenomenon, which is rapidly diffusing in all aspects of life and industries, including tourism,” explains Dr Sigala.
“Unfortunately, the traditional tourist enterprises do not have the necessary knowledge and experience to follow the new data formed in the modern global tourism industry, and therefore our own role is a modern policy which will give a specific rate, but also the possibility of fair play for all practitioners,” explains the professor, who feels that through her IFITT talk at UniSA she managed to engage with the local community and demonstrate the value and services it can provide to the local tourism industry.

“The tourism economy is challenging and creates disruptions in industry structures, business models and consumer behaviour. Traditional tourism operators do not know how to respond, while policy makers need to decide how to regulate the industry and make it a fair playing field for everyone.”