Smart Tourist Destination: a trend or a need?

As has been well insisted several times from the Cathedra's own communications, as well as from those shared by other experts in the sector, one of the key factors in the process of recovery of the tourism sector and its adaptation to the future of time, which will bring a new demand and new trends both in this last, as in the supply, - will be the destinations and the level of their adaptability to these new circumstances.

n one of the interviews, the president of TSS Group, Manuel Molina, suggested that, in order to win back tourists, there must be a strong cooperation between companies, especially those of intermediation and distribution, and own destinations with their respective managers. In this way, an efficient promotion will be promoted, giving confidence to the consumer, so that they can again enjoy their stays outside their usual environment in complete safety and even better than they could before the pandemic.

From here on, it is worth talking about the actions that the destinations themselves have taken in or could take in the near future, since at all times it has been emphasized that companies have to reinvent themselves in these difficult times, in order to face current circumstances and emerge from the crisis more prosperous and prepared than they were before, but what about the destinations?

As indicated by the president of Segittur, Enrique Martínez Martin, in an interview with Hosteltur held in the autumn of last year, the crisis will be overcome in the first place by the destinations that are capable of hitting the mark and coinciding with the priorities set by the market, in this sense, "smart destinations are based on world market trends, therefore, they will have it easier to hit, by having a greater knowledge of the market and what potential customers are looking for".

For several years the phenomenon of an Smart Tourist Destination has been talked about, a concept that in the case of several destinations has been applied successfully, improving both the efficiency of internal procedures and the tourist's experience in terms of their interaction with destiny. Perhaps right now is the time for several destinations that intend to generate tourist interest, lead the effort and the main effort towards the enhancement of their "intelligent" qualities, to be in line with both the offer and the residents it welcomes, as well as the traveler it receives , also taking advantage of the European funds that will be allocated in the near future to the most promising projects.

As defined by Segittur itself, the promoter and main manager of the DTI Network initiative, “a Smart Tourist Destination is an innovative destination, consolidated on a cutting-edge technological infrastructure, which guarantees the sustainable development of the tourist territory, accessible to all , which facilitates the visitor's interaction and integration with the environment and increases the quality of their experience at the destination and improves the quality of life of the resident ”.

It is clear that there are still many destinations, both nationally and internationally, that have not yet adopted the sense of being intelligent, but even so there are several that have made progress in this regard in recent years, largely thanks to to programs and projects in national and European frameworks, for example.

Among the tourist destinations recognized as smart today and that have adopted the corresponding plans and strategies that have been or will be fruitful, we can list both some of the Spanish and European cities. Among the reference cities we can mention such as Gothenburg, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Gijón or Malaga, for example. The important common denominator among all destinations of this nature is that cities have made an effort to introduce improvements in their operation, not only from the tourist point of view, but also for the local population, thus providing well-being common and usable by broad segments.

The most relevant variables used in these cases are global sustainability, with an important emphasis on projects focused on the environment; accessibility; digitization of the internal management services of cities and for the target audience; improvements in public-private cooperation that leads to the development of solutions that help bring the target segments closer to the destination, access to information and data and their subsequent analysis, promotion and support to smaller business sectors, etc.

Ultimately, the path to reaching intelligence is not short and requires a combination and arrangement of various factors at the same time. In any case, after going through a crisis of such dimension and nature as the one we are experiencing now, new practical solutions, proposals and projects for functional improvements of both companies and destinations may be born, which will have to be exploited and bet on its incorporation in the shortest possible time, in order to soon have a solid competitive advantage.  

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