One women entrepreneur is set to fly to Spain to visit smart cities at the Digital Women Awards. Spain has long been a popular tourism destination but now with technology it’s revisiting the concept cities it can offer to its visitors. Spain has boosted its tourism sector setting goals and taking the necessary steps, after considering the diverse factors influencing the idea of a smart city, such as globalisation, changes of habits, environmental respect, transportation costs, and especially the progress towards an information-based society and the importance of new technologies. Have a look at the exciting aspects of smart cities that women entrepreneurs at the Digital Women Awards will get to explore.

What is a Smart Destination?

The Smart City paradigm is meant to be the last (and beloved) son of Postmodernity for urban territories, providing useful tools (an attractive mix of leadership, infrastructures, services and people powered solutions) for making them more efficient, more sustainable and more livable for citizens, as well as more attractive for tourist and occasional visitors.

Why a Smart Destination?

The addition of both concepts, Smart City + Tourism, may be useful for destinations, particularly, as nowadays, there is an overwhelming need for cities to differentiate themselves in order to challenge other territories and establish their credentials as the best choice for prospective visitors and tourists of all sorts. The race of cities to be recognised as a major tourist destination can reveal some success stories, several examples of the perils of commoditisation.

New services, apps or urban products regarding safety, ecology, mobility, connectivity, retail or cultural issues associated with the Smart City deployment are growing in importance regarding the consolidation or re-creation of the image and identity of destinations perceived by visitors.

Spain as a Smart Tourism Destination

For decades, Spain has been in the top positions of world tourism rankings: it is the world leader in sun and beach tourism, it is in 3rdpositionin international tourist arrivals (2014) and 2nd in revenues generated by tourism (2014).

In order to keep this position, Spain has to boost its tourism sector setting goals and taking the necessary steps, after considering the diverse factors influencing this sector, such as globalisation, changes of habits, environmental respect, transportation costs, and especially the progress towards an information-based society and the importance of new technologies.

In these circumstances, it demands creation of a new model linking tourism to the “smart” concept. The predecessors of this model are the “smart cities”, but in this case the model focuses on the motivations and needs of the visitor and the destination itself.

Segittur, Pioneer in implementing “Smart Tourism Destinations”

Segittur has implemented a new programme based on researching and developing “Smart Tourist Destinations”. This project is officially recognised through the Strategic Spanish Tourism Plan, approved by the Spanish Government Cabinet in June 2012. It includes concepts such us sustainability, accessibility, innovation and technology related to tourist destinations. The implementation of this new strategy represents the destinations shift towards a new model that replaces the old ones: quality destinations or purely sustainable destinations. The fusion of these concepts creates a brand new one: SMART TOURIST DESTINATIONS.

After months doing research and consulting private and public stakeholders, a smart tourist destination has been defined as: “An innovative tourist destination, built on an infrastructure of state-of-the-art technology, guaranteeing the sustainable development of tourist development areas, accessible to everyone, which facilitates the visitor’s interaction and integration with the destination and increases the quality of the experience”. As a result, it stimulates competitiveness through innovation, which leads to an improved perception of the destination and a greater productive capacity for companies, generating a better quality of life for residents.