The Development of Smart Tourism Destinations Through the Integration of ICT Innovations in SMEs of the Commercial Sector: Practical Experience From Central Italy

The Development of Smart Tourism Destinations Through the Integration of ICT Innovations in SMEs of the Commercial Sector: Practical Experience From Central Italy

Olimpia Martucci (Roma Tre University, Italy), Alessia Acampora (Roma Tre University, Italy), Gabriella Arcese (Niccolò Cusano University, Italy) and Stefano Poponi (Niccolò Cusano University, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2097-0.ch008

Abstract

The small and medium-size business activities (SMEs), coming from different commercial sectors, are generally found in Italian small towns and municipalities. Recently, SMEs are characterized by negative economic cycles. Factors negatively affecting commercial and tourism activities are historical centers' de-population phenomena, productive delocalization, business transfer, and changes in service delivery processes and logistics. To overcome these negativities the promotion of cultural assets, the use of new technologies for economic development, co-operation through networks and clusters, and the involvement and integration of different local stakeholders are crucial. The aim of this research was to identify key performance indicators and hotspots of business networks created for smart tourism development. The analysis was conducted through the compilation of a mapping of potentially usable technologies and through the analysis of the results of four case studies on the application of a business network in the Italian Lazio Region.
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Introduction

Tourism is a fast-growing industry, which is forecasted to grow at the global level at a significant rate in the next decade. In recent years, tourism has experienced continued expansion and diversification to become the second-fastest-growing sector in the world (World Travel & Tourism Council, 2018), occupying a prominent role in the global and European economy. The travel and tourism sectors grew by 3.9 percent in 2018, accounting for 10.4 percent of global GDP and contributing to the world economy with $8.8 trillion and 319 million jobs in 2018 (World Travel & Tourism Council, 2019).

At the same time, tourism is also a significant contributor to environmental degradation and climate change (Budeanu, Miller, Moscardo, & Ooi, 2016; Kucukusta, Pang, & Chui, 2013). Estimates show that the industry is responsible for roughly 5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions (World Tourism Organization and the United Nations Environment Program, 2008). Additionally, tourism can produce negative impacts on biodiversity and cultural landscape, generating a negative effect on its ability to provide those amenities that generate its success (Gössling & Buckley, 2016; Gössling, Hall, Ekström, Engeset, & Aall, 2012). Therefore, it arises the need to implement efficient policies and practices that may meet the twofold goals of reducing its negative impact on the environment while generating a positive impact on the economy (Girard & Nocca, 2017). The international community has widely recognized the importance to develop sustainable tourism as the “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities” (United Nations World Tourism Organization and United Nations Environment programme, 2005, pp. 11-12). In this sense, the development of Smart Tourism Destinations (STDs) may be guaranteeing the sustainable development of the tourist area, also through the integration of ICTs. Smart Tourism Destination being a local system characterized by advanced services, a high degree of innovation through a considerable use of ICTs, and the presence of open, multipolar, integrated, and shared processes may enhance the quality of life for both residents and tourists.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Business Networks: A form of inter-firm cooperation between a complex network of companies, working together to accomplish certain objectives expressed in a cooperation agreement/contract.

Smart Tourism: A new model of delivering tourism services characterized by the integration of ICT technologies into the tourism business value proposition to enable tourists to communicate and interact more closely with residents, local businesses, local government, and tourist attractions in cities.

ICT Infrastructure: ICT Infrastructures are all the information and communications technology infrastructure and systems (including software, hardware, firmware, networks, and the company websites) that are used in an organization.

Network Contract: With the network contract, two or more companies undertake to jointly exercise one or more economic activities, falling within their respective social objects, in order to increase mutual innovation capacity and market competitiveness.

Digital Platforms: A digital platform is a set of multiple services, representing a unique combination of software and hardware services of a company used to deliver its digital strategy.

Business Clusters: A geographic concentration of interconnected businesses, suppliers, and associated institutions in a particular field.

Smart Tourism Destination: Smart tourism destinations are smart cities which utilize the information technology and innovations to enable pleasure, and experiences for the tourist

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