The use and application of technology in the tourism sector has been called 'digital' or 'smart' tourism.
Tourism plays a large part of the cultural and economic benefits of Scotland. According to Deloitte, it accounts for just over 10% of the country's GDP - directly employing over 160,000 people. Tourism is predicted to grow significantly over the next 5 years with technology playing a key role in enabling this growth.
The Smart Tourism programme brings together university informatics and computing science research from across SICSA, tourism organisations, and industry to address some of the key challenges in the sector.
Unsatisfied needs have been identified by cultural and heritage organisations which operate festivals and sites that are a significant feature of Scotland’s tourism offering.
The gap was highlighted by the Edinburgh Festivals Innovation Lab, which has audited technology-related challenges facing its dozen member festivals, and has identified a set of generic needs. Discussions with Historic Scotland, the RCUK dot.rural Digital Economy Hub in Aberdeen, and other heritage-education and tourism organisations agree on an overlapping set of challenges.
Key common needs identified are:
- Personalisation: Improve how visitors navigate the city/country and volume of events/sites and associated information overload.
- Elastic demand and greening: Make available more resources as efficiently as possible during times of peak demand. Festivals and sporting events – ranging from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to T in the Park to the Commonwealth Games – generate enormous spikes in demand for services (ticket booking, accommodation, food, transport, healthcare).
- New channels, new content: New digital channels are needed for sharing performance and cultural content, and new ‘born digital’ content can be created here. Remote audiences need better access to places, performances and events in Scotland, thereby increasing access, audiences and brand awareness.
The purpose of the Smart Tourism project is to deliver innovative approaches and technology solutions to enhance the Scottish Tourism sector’s technology base. The main outcomes will be solutions to collaborating SME’s, corporates and other stakeholders, such as, Historic Scotland, Edinburgh Festivals and Glasgow Museums to meet the needs and demands of the tourism marketplace. Solutions will also be provided to the RCUK Digital Economy dot.rural Hub to enhance their activity in the rural tourism and enterprise sectors.