The next virus victim could be tourism innovation

Laurent Queige, Director of Welcome CityLab

Laurent Queige, Director of Welcome CityLab


By Laurent Queige, Director of Welcome CityLab

Travel and tourism are the most impacted sectors of the Covid-19 pandemic. Its situation in Europe is becoming catastrophic. Millions of jobs are threatened.

Can innovation be the best response to this crisis? Definitely yes! But, for many travel companies, innovation is no longer a priority. At many of Europe´s travel tech hubs, innovation partnerships and projects have been effectively paused by the crisis. Companies have stopped all cooperation with startups with the general message, that  they  « need to focus on basic business ». If things don’t change, the direct consequence will be that lots of travel tech entrepreneurs will have to stop their activity soon.

The end result will be a serious loss of agility, ideas, solutions and competitive dynamics that can help us overcome the crisis. That’s why we must strongly remind our industry that it is imperative to keep their engagement in start-up communities.  It is in the start-up communities we will find solutions such as:

  • New health and hygiene measurement protocols – e.g. non-tactile check-in/out kiosks, with holographic buttons.
  • New management of crowds and flows, taking into account the rules of social distancing – e.g. interactive light signage in public transport guiding passengers.
  • Better complementarity between physical & digital for MICE – e.g. online meetings rooms, with augmented services, dedicated to clients who can’t attend the event.
  • Better management of tourist flows by anticipating congestion peaks – e.g. artificial intelligence able to anticipate crowds and suggest new visit slots.


That’s why we must strongly remind our industry that it is imperative to keep their engagement in start-up communities.   


… add to all this new focus on hygiene standards, touchless operations, real-time flow monitoring, local tourism.  For further examples, please dive into some of the Paris-based startups, many of which are already deeply engaged in the crisis response.


The Covid-19 pandemic completely reshuffles the deck of the travel industry and society in general. It is vital that we anticipate what is coming next. From Paris Welcome City Lab, we will remain on the challenge with our next trend-book, to be published in September. More to come.


Welcome City Lab is a programme to stimulate innovation in the tourist sector including the world’s first incubator that is dedicated to this sector. It was created by Paris&Co, with the support of the City of Paris, BPI France, Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau and the General Directorate of Enterprise. Its founding members are Aéroports de Paris, Air France, Galeries Lafayette, RATP, Skyboard, Sodexo Prestige, Viparis, Paris Inn Group, Caisse des dépôts, and Pierre&Vacances – Centerparcs group.