A New Concept in Tourism: Smart Tourism Destinations

A New Concept in Tourism: Smart Tourism Destinations

Gamze Coban, Şule Aydın
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1989-9.ch019
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This chapter provides an insight into the topic of smart destinations. By adopting smart technologies, tourism destinations, as well as cities, gain more opportunities to offer better quality of life for residents and visitors. Smart cities aim to improve resource management, sustainability, and living conditions in urban environments by utilizing ICTs. The concept of smart tourism destination, deriving from smart city, refers to the use of technology in tourism destinations to increase the service quality and tourist satisfaction by focusing on tourists' expectations. In other words, smart tourism destinations aim to integrate technology into the destination for these purposes. This chapter presents the concepts of smart city, smart tourism, and smart destination. The emergence of smart city and smart destination concepts and the issues and challenges they might face are discussed. In addition to some future research directions, a brief discussion on potential controversies is presented.
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Management of a city or a destination has always been a complex task. Although it is hard to claim that technology made this task totally easy, the advancements in technology are clearly providing the managers and governors with more tools for a successful city/destination management. On the other hand, the challenges are getting more complicated. Cities are facing many challenges due to the rapid increase in urban population (Buhalis and Amaranggana, 2014). More than half of the world population lives in cities which ultimately results in increasing pressure on infrastructure (Falconer and Mitchell, 2012). Pollution, traffic congestion, and many other infrastructural problems created by this rapid increase (Kim and Han, 2012) are not easy to solve only with conventional methods such as building wider roads and pipelines. This trend in world population, i.e. increase in urban population, is estimated to continue (United Nations Population Fund, 2007). The problems related to increasing urban population threaten economic and environmental sustainability of cities (Neirotti, De Marco, Cagliano, Mangano, and Scorrano, 2014). Since conventional solutions are not that effective anymore, ‘smart’ solutions and knowledge and smarter use of current infrastructure and resources gain even more significance. Fortunately, technology could provide many opportunities to manage these issues. According to Komninos, Pallot, and Schaffers (2013), innovational internet-based services could help to solve these issues by meeting contemporary demands.

‘Smart’ might have many meanings but in terms of urban planning and management, it means a city environment that is integrated with contemporary technologies, especially information and communication technologies (ICTs) which also include data management, artificial intelligence, and etc. According to Boes, Buhalis, and Inversini (2015), a smart city’s ultimate goal is to increase the residents’ quality of life by using these technologies. Smart cities also aim to achieve resource optimization and sustainability through these technologies (Gretzel, Sigala, Xiang, and Koo, 2015a). As well as Boes et al. (2015), Gretzel et al. (2015a) do not ignore that ‘smart’ has also become a fashionable marketing word. In smart cities, smart technologies are used in order to manage and develop all city services (Washburn et al., 2010). Thus, smart cities offer many services to their residents and find solutions to urban problems with the help of information and communication technologies. In this chapter, the concepts of smart city and smart destination are discussed. Smart tourism and the components of smart city are also mentioned in this context. Another discussion is made on the issues on smart cities and smart destinations. Finally, some recommendations for future research are provided.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Smart Destination: There is not a clear distinction between a smart city and a smart destination. It can be defined as a destination that adopts an interactive/participative management style and aims to enhance the residents’ and tourists’ quality of life by using ICTs and other technologies for data collection, storage, exchange, and processing. Smart destinations focus on the effective and efficient use of resources, a cleaner environment, and ultimately sustainability.

Smart City: The term smart city refers to a city/town/area that adopts an interactive/participative management style and aims to enhance the residents’ quality of life and the quality of services provided in the city/town/area thanks mainly to advanced ICTs. Other technologies are also important since they can serve the same purposes. A cleaner environment, minimum levels of CO 2 emissions and ideally zero-emission, effective and efficient use of resources, and ultimately sustainability are at the focus of a smart city’s efforts.

ICTs: Standing for information and communication technologies, it refers to the technologies that facilitate obtaining, storing, processing, and exchanging data and information.

Destination: Destination, or tourism destination, refers to an area or region which possesses tourism attractions and appropriate services.

Knowledge Society: It refers to a society which focuses on the creation and examination of knowledge. The major factor of production in a knowledge society is knowledge.

Smart Tourism: A new way of practicing tourism that enables tourists to access the services and information regarding their tour more conveniently thanks to some advanced technologies and interactive/participative management. Smart tourism does not only deal with tourists but also with residents. Tourists’ and residents’ wishes and needs can be understood more accurately in a smart setting due to advanced technology and interactive/participative management.

Smartness: Smartness refers to smart use of resources, smart and effective management, and a network that enables participative and interactive management. Both the approach to governance and the use of technologies play key roles in smartness.

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