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April 6, 2021

Smart cities are the next step for urban tourism post-pandemic

By GlobalData Technology

Aiding the visitor experience, mitigating the effects of overtourism and leading to more sustainable management, smart cities are the way forward in post-pandemic travel.

Closely aligned with Internet of Things (IoT) technology, smart cities improve the provision and development of urban services through technology. The involvement of smart technologies brings with it a host of benefits for both destinations and attractions. The three pivotal areas it can affect are: enriching the tourist experience (smart apps and IoT with personalized surroundings), improved capacity planning and management (big data and smart beacon technology) and management and infrastructure (analyzing transport and optimizing journeys).

78% of respondents from GlobalData’s poll (live since August 2020) expect technology to change the way they do their job over the next three years. Additionally, it will now also affect the way individuals travel and impact their experiences at a destination or attraction.

Digital ‘vaccine passports’ continue to create headlines worldwide and are meant to ensure the safe recovery of international travel post-pandemic. This concept paves the way for a closer relationship between technology and travel in the near future, and smart cities will definitely strengthen this bond.

Covid-19 has brought more opportunities for smart cities

Smart cities have been mentioned frequently in the past, but the reality is there are only a few destinations actively working towards it. Many Destinations Management Organizations (DMOs) have been behind the curve but with businesses now heavily focusing on incorporating technology to improve visitor experience and management post-pandemic, there is clearly more opportunity.

Travel companies across the tourism supply chain have already made sweeping changes, adapting to consumer preferences with no-touch tech and contactless technologies. 49% of respondents in GlobalData’s poll (Aug-Nov 2020) declared they are investing in contactless/no-touch technologies to reassure customers during the pandemic. It is now not uncommon for lodging providers and airlines to offer individuals the chance for them to check-in digitally, control aspects of their journey and experience through smart app engagement.  The development of these services in travel companies, gives greater leverage for DMOs to utilize in future management.

A further call for collaboration

With businesses adapting to changing consumer preferences post-pandemic, this brings further opportunity for DMOs to collaborate with local stakeholders to reinvent and rebuild more responsible and effective tourism strategies post-pandemic.

Stakeholder engagement is a critical factor for a destination’s success. Technological and smart solutions will continue to be important for the future of travel, but the combination of technology and collaboration are the two prime factors that will lead to more responsible tourism management and an improvement of the touristic experience.