Smart Destinations Program
The Smart Destinations initiative was designed so that destinations could successfully face the challenges and transformations posed by the new economic, social and technological environment worldwide, and the new connected tourist. Spain’s ‘Smart Destinations’ project examines the effective use of digital technologies to develop the industry, at the same time focusing on sustainable development of a location by improving both the visitor experience and the quality of life of local residents
The Smart Destinations initiative was designed so that destinations could successfully face the challenges and transformations posed by the new economic, social and technological environment worldwide, and the new connected tourist. Spain’s ‘Smart Destinations’ project examines the effective use of digital technologies to develop the industry, at the same time focusing on sustainable development of a location by improving both the visitor experience and the quality of life of local residents. The case is interesting for its socially inclusive, sustainable and technological dimensions. The concept of a “Smart Destination” has been gaining traction, defined as an innovative tourism destination, consolidated on a cutting-edge technological infrastructure, ensuring sustainable development of the tourist area, accessible to all, that facilitates interaction and integration between visitors and the environment and increases the quality of their experience at the destination as well as improving the quality of life for resident population. The program was developed to help tourism destinations adopt a new model of tourism development based on ICT, innovation, and sustainability. There was also an urgent need to establish parameters to prioritize investment in Spanish tourist destinations. In response to this need, SEGITTUR initially worked in the methodological definition of the model, secondly, in the implementation in tourist destinations and, finally, in providing destinations with several tools for their development, such as counselling and information, training or technological tools. Within the framework of this initiative, SEGITTUR assists destinations on the different stages of their transformation into Smart Destinations through different activities as follow: • Implementation of diagnosis and planning methodology for Smart Destinations • Development of common platforms for tourist destinations (intelligence system, self-diagnosis and follow-up of Smart Destinations action plans) • Training programs (on-line and on-site) • Counselling and mentoring services through the Smart Destinations’ Network The programme has helped establish a new strategic model to foster smart tourism development at all territorial levels. The initiative is contributing to the strategic alignment of territorial policies, measure the degree of compliance with the Smart Destinations model and identify main challenges and priorities in destinations. The most important outcomes are being achieved as a result of the implementation of the diagnosis and planning methodology in tourist destinations and the Smart Destinations Network. The methodology of diagnosis and planning proposes a two-cycle process of implementation: • Cycle 1: Diagnosis and Strategic Planning: aimed at measuring the destinations’ compliance with the requirements of a Smart Destination, as established in a prior phase of methodological definition. It consists on a set of more than 400 requirements that cover the five pillars of a Smart Destination: governance, innovation, technology, sustainability and universal accessibility. Each requirement is analysed to measure its degree of compliance under a 1 to 5 scale. The final evaluation allows to obtain a global overview of each destination’s compliance, and specific results per pillar and evaluation scopes. • Cycle 2: Plan Execution and Follow-up: Once the destination gets the Report of Diagnosis and Planning, destination managers have five years to execute the resulting action plan designed to comply with the Smart Destinations requirements. Since the beginning of the program, SEGITTUR has been working with 37 tourist destinations in Spain, and 2 in Mexico. The initiative has had a great impact worldwide and has been recognized it as a case study of success by international bodies such as the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the European Commission, Organization for Cooperation and Development, the World Travel & Tourism Council or the Inter-American Development Bank. Another important feature of the initiative is the Smart Destinations Network, a forum for meeting and exchanging experiences led by destinations and local actors committed to the Smart Destinations model. It was launched by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism in 2019, mainly, to guide, align and coordinate programs, resources and existing public policies in the field of smart destinations, favoring a better utilization of available resources, avoiding duplications and promoting synergies.
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