Vol. 13 No. 5 (2022):
Research Article

Tourism Innovation in the Adriatic-Ionian Region: Questioning the Understanding of Innovation

Daniela Angelina Jelinčić
Institute for Development and International Relations
Sanja Tišma
Institute for Development and International Relations
The Adriatic and Ionian Region (AIR)

Published 2022-12-29


  • innovation,
  • tourism,
  • sustainability,
  • Adriatic-Ionian region

How to Cite

Jelinčić, Daniela Angelina, and Sanja Tišma. 2022. “Tourism Innovation in the Adriatic-Ionian Region: Questioning the Understanding of Innovation”. European Journal of Geography 13 (5):97-114. https://doi.org/10.48088/ejg.d.jel.
Received 2022-11-09
Accepted 2022-12-29
Published 2022-12-29


Today, tourism as the most important global service industry faces many challenges, which call for innovations. Innovation is largely fostered through a number of European Union (EU) funding programs. In tourism, innovations most often include production innovations (new products and services), process innovations (new ways of delivering tourist services), logistical innovations (new ways of providing products/services to tourists), and market innovations (new marketing methods or market behavior). In order to detect the number and types of tourism innovations funded by the EU in the Adriatic-Ionian region (AIR), a research has been done throughout 2020-2022. The purpose of the research was to detect projects fostering innovations in sustainable tourism, analyze their innovation capacity and propose possible policy enhancements. Research methodology included a desk research and a survey. In total, 88 projects were detected fostering different types of innovations. An uneven geographical distribution and financial incentives for innovative projects were detected. Also, the lack of clear understanding of the concept of innovation has been found not only by funded projects but also by seconded national administration in the AIR. The research results showed that financial incentives, although welcome, do not always foster innovations. Rather, an effective governance should be in place to tailor the appropriate financial incentives and guide the process. In this way, mediocre solutions are avoided. The contribution of the research is seen in the guidelines for growth and improvements in the development of innovation in sustainable tourism in the AIR.


Download data is not yet available.


  1. Cuadrado-Ciuraneta, S., & Dura-Guimera, A. (2018). From tourism to metropolization:analysis of the forces of urban transformation along the Northern Costa Brava (Catalonia, Spain). European Journal of Geography, 17(1), 91–104. https://eurogeojournal.eu/index.php/egj/article/view/97/69
  2. EIS-RIS. (2021). European and Regional Innovation Scoreboards 2021. European Commission. https://ec.europa.eu/research-and-innovation/en/statistics/performance-indicators/european-innovation-scoreboard/eis
  3. EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR), Interreg Adriatic-Ionian, EUSAIR Facility Point. (2022). Monitoring and Evaluation of the European Strategy of Adriatic-Ionian Region (EUSAIR), Pillar 4 “Sustainable Tourism”, 3rd Annual Monitoring Report. https://mint.gov.hr/UserDocsImages//2022_dokumenti//220708_Pillar4.pdf
  4. European Commission. (2020). European innovation scoreboard 2020. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. https://ec.europa.eu/docsroom/documents/42981
  5. Gan, C., Wang, K., Voda, M., Ye, J., & Chen, L. (2022). Analysis on the impact of technological innovation on tourism development: the case of Yangtze river delta urban agglomeration in China. Tourism Economics, 0(0), 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1177/13548166221102590
  6. Gibbs, M., Neckermann, S., & Siemroth, C. (2017). A field experiment in motivating employee ideas. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 99(4), 577–590. https://doi.org/10.1162/REST_a_00631
  7. Giotis, G., & Papadionysiou, E. (2022). The role of managerial and technological innovations in the tourism industry: a review of the empirical literature. Sustainability, 14(9), 5182. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14095182
  8. Gkoulgkoutsika, A., Papaioannou, I., Paraskevopoulou, C., & Tsekeridis, V. (2022). Innovation in the tourism industry through personalization for the case of Thessaloniki: tourist types and their role in development strategies. Open Access Research Journal of Science and Technology, 05(02), 039–052. https://doi.org/10.53022/oarjst.2022.5.2.0057
  9. Guo, K., Fan, A., Lehto, X., & Day, J. (2021). Immersive digital tourism: the role of multisensory cues in digital museum experiences. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, 20(10), 1–23. https://doi.org/10.1177/10963480211030319
  10. Hernández Esquivel, M., Vargas Martínez, E. E., Delgado Cruz, A., & Montes Hincapié, J. M. (2022). Sustainable innovation: concepts and challenges for tourism organizations. Academica Turistica, 14(2), 175–187. https://doi.org/10.26493/2335-4194.14.175-187
  11. IRMO. (2021). Innovative actions in sustainable tourism. EU Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region: First annual report. [Unpublished report].
  12. Işik, C., Ahmad, M., Wu, H., Akhtar, N., Jabeen, G., Irfan, M., & Anser, M. K. (2021). Intention-based critical factors affecting willingness to adopt novel coronavirus prevention in Pakistan: implications for future pandemics. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(11), 6167. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18116167
  13. Işik, C., Aydın, E., Dogru, T., Rehman, A., Alvarado, R., Ahmad, M., & Irfan, M. (2021). The nexus between team culture, innovative work behaviour and tacit knowledge sharing: theory and evidence. Sustainability, 13(8), 4333. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084333
  14. Işik, C., Aydın, E., Dogru, T., Rehman, A., Sirakaya-Turk, E., & Karagöz, D. (2022). Innovation research in tourism and hospitality field: a bibliometric and visualization analysis. Sustainability, 14(13), 7889. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14137889
  15. Işik, C., Kasımatı, E., & Ongan, S. (2017). Analyzing the causalities between economic growth, financial development, international trade, tourism expenditure and/on the CO2 emissions in Greece. Energy Sources, Part B: Economics, Planning, and Policy, 12(), 665–673. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15567249.2016.1263251
  16. Işik, C., Küçükaltan, E. G., Taş, S., Akoğul, E., Uyrun, A., Hajiyeva, T., Turan, B., Dırbo, A. H., & Bayraktaroğlu, E. (2019). Tourism and innovation: a literature review. Journal of Ekonomi 1(2), 88–154. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/338336421_Tourism_and_innovation_A_literature_review
  17. Kern Pipan, K., Gomišček, B., & Mayer, J. (2012). Exploratory study of quality and excellence approaches and continuous improvement from the perspective of new institutionalism. Journal of East European Management Studies, 17(3), 313–332. https://doi.org/10.5771/0949-6181-2012-3-313
  18. Minguez, K. (2012). The management of cultural resources in the creation of Spanish tourist destinations. European Journal of Geography 3(1), 68-82. Retrieved from https://eurogeojournal.eu/index.php/egj/article/view/77
  19. Moré, R. P. O., Goncalo, C. R., Fiates, G. G. S., & Andrade, C. R. D. (2018). Governance structure promoting innovation: an exploratory study in Brazilian habitats. Journal of Technology Management & Innovation, 13(4), 61–73. https://doi.org/10.4067/s0718-27242018000400061
  20. OECD/Eurostat. (2018). Oslo Manual 2018: Guidelines for Collecting, Reporting and Using Data on Innovation, 4th Edition, The Measurement of Scientific, Technological and Innovation Activities, OECD Publishing, Paris/Eurostat, Luxembourg. https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264304604-en
  21. Partanen, M., & Sarkki, S. (2021). Social innovations and sustainability of tourism: insights from public sector in Kemi, Finland. Tourist Studies, 21(4) 550 –571. https://doi.org/10.1177/14687976211040246
  22. Rauscher, M., Humpe, A., & Brehm, L. (2020). Virtual reality in tourism: is it ‘real’ enough?. Academica Turistica,13(2), 127-138. https://doi.org/10.26493/2335-4194.13.127-138
  23. Roman, M., Roman, M., & Prus, P. (2020). Innovations in agritourism: evidence from a region in Poland. Sustainability, 12(12), 4858. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124858
  24. UNWTO. (2019). Key tourism figures. UN World Tourism Organisation. https://webunwto.s3.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/2020-06/unwto_key_figures_barom_may2019_en.pdf
  25. Williams, A. M., Sánchez, I. R., & Škokić, V. (2020). Innovation, risk, and uncertainty: a study of tourism entrepreneurs. Journal of Travel Research, 60(2), 293 –311. https://doi.org/10.1177/0047287519896012
  26. Xu, X. L., Shen, T., Zhang, X., & Chen, H. H. (2020). The role of innovation investment and executive incentive on financial sustainability in tech-capital-labor intensive energy company: Moderate effect. Energy Reports, 6, 2667–2675. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.egyr.2020.09.011
  27. Zengin, N., & Türker, N. (2021). Social innovation in tourism industry: a case study on Master’s students. Journal of Academic Tourism Studies, 2(1), 12-31. http://dx.doi.org/10.29228/jatos.51952