Smart tourism is an important component of a smart city. Tourism is one of the major components of economic growth for communities worldwide. A key requirement of tourism has been to attract more and more tourists from different parts of the world. Smart tourism refers to the application of information and communication technology, such similar to the smart cities, for developing innovative tools and approaches to improve tourism. Smart tourism is reliant on core technologies such as ICT, mobile communication, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. It supports integrated efforts at a destination to find innovative ways to collect and use data derived from physical infrastructure, social connectedness and organizational sources (both government and non-government), and users in combination with advanced technologies to increase efficiency, sustainability, experiences. The information and communication technology tools used for smart tourism include IoT, mobile communication, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. It combines physical, informational, social, and commercial infrastructure of tourism with such tools to provide smart tourism opportunities. The principles of smart tourism lie at enhancing tourism experiences, improve the efficiency of resource management, maximize destination competitiveness with an emphasis on sustainable aspects. It should also gather and distribute information to facilitate efficient allocation of tourism resources and integrate tourism supplies at a micro and macro level ensuring that the benefits are well distributed. They are observed to be effective in technologically advanced destinations such as smart cities.
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Who Uses Smart Tourism Tools?
In short, everyone. Big data is used by travel companies all over the world, from flight providers and travel agents to travel-focused websites, bloggers, and search comparison websites. Big data has become the core of how the industry knows what to focus on and what people are after. In today’s business environment, the most valuable asset to an organization has become the data about their customers and potential customers and the ability to mine, understand and make revenue and customer projections based on it. In addition to the data a travel or hospitality organization collects on customers themselves, they can attach additional information from other organizations collected from social media, online review sites, search engines, retail platforms, and smartphones.
Smart Tourism Destinations
Any destination can be a smart tourist destination if it consists of the following;
- Soft smartness; includes collaborations, innovation, and leadership
- Hard smartness; refers to all the technology and infrastructure
However, the availability of any of the above does not make for a smart destination. It depends on the availability of hardsmartness which enables improvement of human capital and smart decisions based on the application of technology and infrastructure.
Smart tourism requires the following attributes:
- Technology embedded environments
- Responsive processes at micro and macro levels
- End-user devices
- Stakeholders that actively use smart platforms
Smart Tourism Tools
Smart tourism tools refer to a combination of mobile hardware, software, and networks to enable interaction between tourists, stakeholders, and physical objects. The communication must be able to provide personalized services and real-time information for making smart decisions. Three specific smart tourism tools are mobile applications, augmented reality, and near-field communications.
Applications must be able to provide information which will help tourists in making informed choices such as making reservations, translation services, direction guidance. Audio guidance, etc. It should also allow real-time communication between stakeholders and customers.
It is an experience augmenting a real-world environment with information with the help of smartphone or lens systems. It can contribute significantly to cultural tourism.
An example includes AR at a Roman theater which allows users to point their phone at the arena and watch a gladiator fight.
Near Field Communications
NFC can be mostly used mostly in tourist places such as museums and which allows tourists to scan information points at paintings/ sculptures/ historical artifacts which then allows the phone to provide translations. The NFC however, requires a compatible device.
Each location calls for the application of different tools. Both tourists and destinations benefit from smart tourism. Benefit for destinations includes economic reward, potential FDI, preservation of cultural heritage, etc. while for the tourists include convenience, reduction in expenses, to name a few.
Challenges of Smart Tourism
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- A. K. Tripathy, P. K. Tripathy, N. K. Ray, and S. P. Mohanty, “iTour: The Future of Smart Tourism”, IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 3, May 2018, pp. 32-37.
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