The Role of Smart Cities on the Rise of Smart Tourism
In the current day and age, many popular cities and small towns around the world have adopted the concept and implementation of the smart city movement. Simultaneously, the number of tourists in such cities has been experiencing an enormous surge. This sudden growth in the industry needs the help of smart and innovative solutions to elevate the ongoing and overbearing pressure of mass tourism on the resources and infrastructure of a country's economy. This led to the rise of smart tourism.
According to data provided by World Urbanization Prospects, since 2010 the majority of people have been residing in cities. And this number is expected to keep on rising in the future. Although cities may only take up 2% of the Earth’s surface, their inhabitants consume more than 75% of the world’s natural resources and produce more than 60% of all carbon dioxide. Due to the overwhelming number of people living in the cities, they are experiencing a severe resource crisis.
This led to a desperate call for drastic changes to be made in infrastructure and in the distribution of goods and services, while also addressing overall environmental sustainability concerns. The situation compelled the city authorities to search for solid long-term alternatives of ways to manage such situations in the future. Thus, making way for the concept of Smart Cities. These days almost all aspects of our existence have been taken over by smart technologies, including the infrastructure of the cities we live in and tourism, of course.
Cities like the Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy, have begun to use smart city solutions to minimize this impact of imbalance due to over-tourism. They launched an app that suggests different routes for tourists to choose from according to their convenience and help them navigate through them. The app also provides insight into the tourist experience while detecting tourist flows in real time through data collected from sensors deployed across the city. Hence it enables tourists to have the best travel experience by letting them know about the crowd situation at different attractions and sites beforehand while also helping to preserve and maintain the important and historical sites by avoiding overcrowding.
Smart city technologies have been on the rise in an attempt to improve the quality of life and safety of the people living in those cities while also finding ways to upgrade environmental management. A thematic intelligence report on smart cities in travel and tourism can provide an outline of the growing importance of smart city solutions and a detailed industry analysis of smart cities and destinations.
Now before we discuss the relationship between Smart cities and Smart tourism and the role the former plays in the rise of the latter, we need to have a clear concept of both topics.
What is a Smart city?
The concept of a Smart city is defined by the use of science and innovative technologies to improve urban infrastructure and make the surrounding areas more efficient and adaptable for their inhabitants while improving the quality of life. They also function with a vision of the future, emphasizing the importance of resource management and sustainability for future generations.
The Smart City concept includes matters concerned with sustainability, energy, waste management, traffic management, public system integration, and proper distribution of services like education, health, transportation and energy, among the entire population. To establish synergies aimed at improving the quality of life of the people and improving the efficiency of the services in any particular city, it is important to manage the aspects in an integrated and intelligent way.
There are several projects pertaining to smart cities implemented around the world which can be influenced by any of the four important driving factors, information and communication technologies (ICT) and network infrastructures, Market-induced urban development, technology-intensive industries, and environmental sustainability.
Several innovative technologies may be required for the management of a functioning Smart City, however, many consider the co-existence of a smart economy, smart mobility, smart environment, smart governance, smart living, and smart people to be the essential pillars of a smart city. It is also very important to maintain cooperation between technologies, management, and the social economic system, Which can be achieved by using the help of ICT as the central nervous system potentiator for the management of smart cities.
The implementation of Smart city technology is very crucial for maintaining the living standard the present generation has gotten used to, as it ensures a higher quality of life and safety for the inhabitants of those cities.
What is Smart Tourism?
The European Union defines the concept of Smart Tourism as a destination that facilitates access to tourism and hospitality products, services, spaces, and experiences through ICT-based tools, where a healthy social and cultural environment can be found through a focus on the city’s social and human capital. It is a subcategory of the smart cities’ pillar, Smart Living.
Smart tourism is also responsible for implementing innovative and entrepreneurial businesses that are interconnected with one another. And by investing in and developing these businesses and their services, the city can strengthen its intelligence and in turn improve visitor engagement. This new and more efficient infrastructure and service provision has become an important asset to individuals, businesses, and the destination itself.
Nowadays tourists rely heavily on ICT, gathering information about and looking forward to all kinds of experiences and creating new trends of consumption. This significant growth in demand is possible due to the increase in mobile computing which led to the development of innovative applications in several subcategories of the tourism sector, smart guides for tourism. It provides the consumer with more personalised recommendations and relevant feedback based on the current location and preferences of the user, replacing the need for a human tourist guide.
Similarly to this, there are several other innovative solutions to tackle different tourism-related struggles and concerns, that have made significant impacts on the sector. Smart Tourist destinations have now become the focal point for upgrading a city’s Infrastructure by enhancing the tourist experience.
From the above discussion, we know and can say that in a smart city, the integration of technology with different aspects of daily life becomes imperative to enhance the quality of living, addressing several related issues such as culture, health, safety, tourism and housing.
Therefore, a Smart city is expected to feature an enhanced healthcare system, smarter housing, a state-of-the-art security system and Cultural centres, and technologically equipped tourism facilities. Since Smart Tourism is also included as a subcategory of one of the important pillars of a Smart City, it is safe to say that the increase in the number of Smart cities around the world will result in a proportional rise in Smart tourism as well. And predictably In the future, a major portion of the world economy and the future of Smart tourism will be dependent on the total number of smart cities around the world.