di Laura Federico
The term Smart Tourism comes from Smart City, which developed from the idea of smartness.The concept “smartness” was mainly connected to technology, but by time, it broadened to “smart people”, by meaning those who live in the city, the tourists and the local stakeholders. After “technological city” (or digital city), new concepts are addressing to social dimension, participation, empowerment and quality of life.
The concept of smart tourism in Western countries can be found back to 2000 when Gordon Philips gave his first definition: «simply taking a holistic, longer term and sustainable approach to planning, developing, operating and marketing tourism products and businesses» .
According to him, smart tourism is shaped by smart demand (management techniques to manage demand and access) and smart marketing techniques that can be used to «target the proper consumer segments and deliver the appropriate messages.
In 2009, during the first meeting in Madrid of the United Nation World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) Tourism Resilience Committee, the first concept of “smart tourism” has been shaped as a «clean, green, ethical and quality at all levels of the service chain», able to satisfy the needs, on short term, of the economic crisis and- on long term- the commitment for a sustainable development, to lower the level of poverty and take decisions towards the climate change.
The increasing of the size of urban areas was possible through a shift into the urban technological edge that allowed the city to accommodate more people. All the issues related to agglomerations have been solved thanks to creativity, human capital, cooperation among stakeholders and scientific ideas. According to this: «A “Smart City” should develop clever solutions to allow a quantitative and qualitative improvement in productivity» .
The role of technology plays an important role in defining a smart city. ICT (Information and Communications Technology) coordinates all the activities and services aiming to better inform and engage citizens. The role of ICT is crucial: it makes cities more accessible and enjoyable both for residents and travellers (visitors) by interconnecting all local organizations and stakeholders to provide proper services and data connection in real time. The technology will synergise with the city’s social components to improve citizens quality of life and improve services. ICT technology consists of The Internet of things (IoT), Cloud Computing, high performance information processing and intelligent data digging, SoLOMo (Social Local mobile). “Internet of things” appeared for the first time in 1999 and was coined by Kevin Ashton (MIT).
According to the official study carried out by the European Parliament (“Mapping Smart Cities in Europe”)in 2014, a smart city is one with at least one or more of the following initiatives: 1. Smart Governance, 2. Smart People, 3. Smart Living, 4. Smart Mobility, 5. Smart Economy 6. Smart Environment-
The role of ICT is to link and strengthen networks of people, businesses, infrastructures, resources, energies etc. and providing intelligent and wise organization, a proper management and governmental tools. According to The EU study, the smart cities in the EU countries (28 in 2014), were not equally distributed. The countries with the largest numbers of them were UK, Spain, Italy, although the highest percentages were in Italy, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Estonia and Slovenia.
The concept of smart tourism is strictly connected to smart city. If the purpose of a smart city is to build and develop a better city for its residents, the purpose of the smart tourism is to create and develop a better environment for the travellers/tourists and engage the stakeholders (tour operators, travel agencies, tourism bureau/offices etc.). The social information plays a major role throughout the different part of the travel: the first stage is the inspiration and the organisation of the travel (83% of leisure tourists collect information from internet). After and during the travel, sharing and posting on social media is a must for travellers. Of course, mobiles have speeded up the process: postings are at real time as well as the information. Tourists stopped being passive consumers as they have become active player since the very beginning by planning their entire holiday (they become both “planners” and consumers).
Tourism has become smart as a consequence of the numerous tools that has modified the way to access the information . Within the touristic destination, tourism can enrich the whole experience and improve the competitiveness of the destination itself
Successful tourism destinations have different characteristics as the 6As advice:
- Attractions which can be natural, artificial or cultural;
- Accessibility (transportation system, available routes, public transportation);
- Amenities (all services such as accommodation, gastronomy and leisure activities);
4.Available packages refer to the availability of service bundles by intermediaries to direct tourists’ attention to certain unique features;
- Activities which are available in the areas;
- Ancillary services (bank, postal service and hospitals).
All areas should be always competitive in the industry. Bringing smartness to tourism destinations requires an important interconnection among the stakeholders through a technological platform where information about tourism activities can be exchanged instantly. Smart tourism destinations take advantage of: • Technology; • Processes at micro and macro levels; • End-users devices in multiple touch points; • Engage stakeholders that use the platform as a neural system. The aim is to use the system to enhance the tourism experience and improve the effectiveness of the local management towards the destination, to maximise the competitiveness and the consumer satisfaction.
The fundamental of constructs of a Smart Tourism destination are first of all human capital, which forms the base for the leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation, and social capital constructs. Subsequently, these are supported and enabled via technology applications and ICT infrastructures.