Although researchers have defined “Smart Tourism” term, there has not been any consensus on a widely accepted interpretation. By Smart Tourism we refer to one of the elements of Smart Cities that is held under the Smart Economy component (Boyd Cohen, Smart City Wheel). It includes e-trade and e-business, ICT enabled advanced production and services, ICT enabled new products, services and business models where smart communities and digital entrepreneurship are also supportive elements of these activities.
When it comes to Tourism, the vital functions that Smart Cities offer to their citizens are added expectations of the guests coming from all the corners of the world to experience a quality and unforgettable experience.
Smart Tourism is certainly a distinct step in the evolution of ICT in tourism in that the physical and governance dimensions of tourism are entering the digital playing field, new levels of intelligence are achieved in tourism systems (UNWTO, Gretzel 2011)
Smart Tourism Destination
Smart tourism involves multiple elements of smartness that are supported by ICTs like Shared Economy, Big Data Applications, and Industry 4.0 Applications which are the major areas of Smart Tourism.
Smart Tourism Destinations are special implementations of smart cities. Smart City concept is applied to urban areas and aims to increase the quality of the lives of the tourists as well as citizens through smart technologies.
Smart Tourism Destination is an innovative tourist destination, built on an infrastructure of state-of-the-art technology guaranteeing the sustainable development of tourist areas, accessible to everyone, which facilitates the visitor’s interaction with and integration into his or her surroundings, increases the quality of the experience at the destination, and improves residents’ quality of life (UNWTO, Lopez de Avila, 2015).
Why we need to focus on Smart Tourism Destination?
In today’s world, it is not countries that are competing, even not cities are competing, destinations are competing indeed. The most catalyzing factor to this competition is to strengthen the destinations using technology with innovative and sustainable business models. Therefore, Smart Tourism Destination is the lifeblood of Tourism Industry that provides the cities unique opportunities to make them preferred choices for the domestic and foreign tourists.
It aims to increase the competitiveness of the destinations and tourism experience through an inclusive and co-creation process. It includes an hybrid eco-system having physical, digital and social communities.
To be more competitive, we need new principles, new policies, new processes, new approaches, sustainable strategies, and integrated models where digital transformation is the heart of this transition.
Benefits of more efficient and effective destinations (following Boyd Cohen’s definition of smart city) are: waste reduction, reduced energy and water consumption, increased quality of public transportation through open tourism data, existence of more green spaces, higher awareness level of residents and tourists, etc.
Novusens approach to Smart Cities and Smart Tourism
Novusens Smart City Institute has been operational since 2014. It’s an independent ‘Think Tank’ organization developing innovation policies and strategies, using advanced technologies to increase the life quality of the people, focusing on new opportunities to contribute economic growth, developing new innovative models to shape the future to have better lives, making research studies, delivering professional consultancy and training services in Turkey and abroad. From the beginning we’re trying to help cities in transforming themselves into smart cities using technologies by increasing their innovation and entrepreneurship capacities to increase their life qualities through an inclusive and citizen oriented approach. One of our focus areas in Smart Cities studies is Smart Tourism Destination.
Tourism industry is one of the top industries in our country as we have lots of richness in terms of history, nature and cultural heritage. Increased focus on Destination Oriented Tourism through technology has already been decided as a country strategy in tourism and documented in the high level policy and development plans.
I believe that tourism industry should be the top focus industry in our country. Smart Cities concept helps the development of Smart Tourism Destination and therefore creates the maximum satisfaction for the tourists as well as citizens. Using smart technologies with smart models will definitely be improving the tourist experience.
In Novusens, we try to make concept designs of innovative Smart Tourism projects and create Use Cases that turns out to be Best Known Methods by implementing them with real users (citizens and tourists). We then try to scale them up at the city, region or country level after monitoring and assessing the impact of them independently.
We share our best practices with the cities in other countries and also try to create town twinning projects to enable them sharing their know-how and experiences in Smart Tourism within the Smart Cities concept.
While developing Use Cases, we also contribute to the policy studies that our government organizations are conducting like attending to the Tourism Commission of the 11th Development Plan of Turkey (not published yet).
Novusens Smart Tourism Studies
Bilkent Univeristy 7th Tourism Forum – Tourism 4.0-Where we are in Digital Transformation?
Each year, the Department of Tourism and Hotel Management holds the Bilkent Tourism Forum, with the aim of encouraging cooperation between the tourism industry and institutions of higher education. This year’s forum, the seventh was held on 12th of October, 2018 and also celebrated the department’s 30th anniversary.
The theme of the 2018 forum was “Tourism 4.0,” with a focus on technological developments and their impact on the tourism industry. Participants included representatives of key players in the industry, as well as academics and students.
Established in 1988, in accordance with the vision of university founder Prof. İhsan Doğramacı regarding the importance of tourism for Turkey, the Bilkent University Department of Tourism and Hotel Management is the oldest such department at a private institution of higher education in Turkey. In the 30 years since its founding, the department has graduated over 3,900 students.
Future of travel technologies, smart cities, smart tourism, artificial intelligence applications and interactive accommodation experiences have been assessed in detail during the Forum in which digitalization in tourism industry and impact of technological advancements on the industry have been discussed.
As one of the speakers and the supporters of the Forum, I tried to emphasize the relationship between smart cities and smart tourism destination concepts and sharing the experiences of Novusens Smart City Institute on it.
Smart City-Smart Tourism Academic Training Road Show @Universities of Ankara
As a Guest Instructor of Bilkent Tourism Faculty in 2018 academic year, when covering Smart Cities and Smart Tourism Destination concepts in the world and the evolution of them in Turkey by giving real life use cases as references including the studies of Novusens, realized the needs and benefits of the universities with regards to capacity building in this field. Capacity building activities continued in Ankara Atilim University Faculty of Tourism in 2018 by delivering the same course upon their kind invitation. It turned to be an academy tour initiative as it is going to be continued in other universities of Ankara in 2019.
“Canakkale on my Mind” Smart City Transformation Initiative
With the ownership of Kale Group and collaboration of Turkish Informatics Foundation (TBV), Novusens Smart City Institute has been running “Canakkale on my Mind” Smart City Transformation Initiative since Feb 2017. The project aime to increase the liveability, sustainability and competitiveness level of the City of Canakkale through Smart City Transformation. Canakkale has been the 1st medium size city in Turkey that applied a systematic smart city transformation process.
We used our own Smart City Transformation Model – “CITI-Zen” by referring to Boyd Cohen’s Smart City Model during this transformation.
During the 1st phase of the project, we identified the priority areas of the city jointly with all of the local stakeholders where Smart Tourism Destination is one of them.
In the 2nd phase of the project, we identified many Smart Tourism project ideas based on the various studied we performed.
In the coming 3rd phase of the transformation process, these Smart Tourism projects will likely to be implemented by the local stakeholders and related national partners which will contribute to the social and economic development of the city.
In the second phase of the project, Town Twinning Project of EU was granted to the Canakkale Municipality where the City of Tarragona, Spain has been the twin city of Canakkale where both cities have benefited from their cultural heritage and will continue to do so. This town-twinning project has been one of the solid outcomes of “Canakkale on my Mind” Smart City Transformation Initiative.
“Aklım EGE’de”-A Smart City-Smart Tourism Initiative @Aegean Region of Turkey
To support tourism industry we started “Aklim EGE’de” (My Mind is at Agean Region) Smart City, Smart Tourism & Art Initiative in cooperation with Artı Mavi Consultancy on June 2015 in the city of Bodrum hosted by “Atolye Dut Agaci” in which all the key stakeholders of Bodrum attended to the event and discussed the current challenges and potential solutions. The impact of culture and art elements to Smart Cities was also assessed during the event.
The initiative continued with the 2nd stop in the city of Kusadasi in August, 2017, hosted by KUAKMER (Kusadasi F. Private Arabul Culture Center) where local stakeholders came together and evaluated the current situation and future plans of the city to be able to contribute to social and economic development by assessing the current tourism potential of Kusadasi with innovative approaches supported by technology
Novusens will continue to work on various smart tourism destination initiatives under the concept of smart cities including intangible cultural heritage to be able to contribute to tourism industry by capacity building activities and creating reference Use Cases through the usage of smart technologies as we strongly believe that there is a huge potential in Turkey to further develop tourism industry with the increased focus on our destinations with a systematic approach.
Next study will be contributing to Ankara Tourism Initiative that was started by Ankara Governor recently.