Smarter tourism in the Spanish-Portuguese border region
The Smart Tourism Destinations project has designed an information platform to allow policymakers and businesses in the cities of Badajoz in Spain and Elvas in Portugal to assess the effect of tourism policies, promotional activities, cultural events and investment in infrastructure and resources. The aim is to help to boost tourism in the region.
" The project has helped to boost the efficiency of public administration and improve private sector tourism provision in Badajoz and Elvas by monitoring spending and consumption, analysing information related to both destinations and disseminating this information among public and private actors. "
The partners created a digital platform for collection and analysis of data from Badajoz and Elvas. Data includes places visited by tourists, numbers of vehicles and people, turnover by business sector, origin of customers, online reviews, hotel and restaurant occupation rates and parking space use.
This information is processed and provided to all system users through reports allowing them to see the economic impact of specific events, flows of tourists or changes in trends.
Better measurement of the impact of tourism activities
Policymakers and businesses often face difficulties in gauging the impact of tourism activities and the Smart Tourism System was designed to help them in this task. It should make public management of tourism more efficient, identify factors influencing the competitiveness of SMEs and make them more competitive, and foster a high-quality supply of tourism activities around the Spanish-Portuguese border.
The project also aimed to get an idea of visitors’ mobility and spending patterns and to establish indicators for monitoring the evolution of tourism activity. Based on this, it was possible to disseminate strategic information to all actors in the sector and to promote a cooperative culture.
As a result, the Smart Tourism System can provide accurate and reliable information from public and private sources on the consequences of tourism-related activities. It can also give SMEs details of local tourism trends and tourist spending, as well as enhancing links between tourism activity in Badajoz and Elvas. The data and analysis can be viewed at a freely accessible website.
An innovative system
The system is highly innovative as it uses information from online and smart mobile device use and online reviews to capture, process and manage information on the cities' tourism activities. Data on credit card transactions is also provided thanks to the participation of a large card issuer.
Visitor mobility monitoring techniques are deployed in shopping centres to ascertain mobility patterns in Badajoz and Elvas and flows between the main tourist attractions. Data generated in tourist offices based on information from businesses and services is also used. All information is analysed against the activity agendas of both cities.
One instance in which the Smart Tourism System has been useful is the debate on restriction of shop opening hours in Badajoz. The system has made it possible to calculate what businesses make from longer opening hours, thus providing facts to back up the arguments. It also allows businesses to better plan their activities and get feedback on the consequences of their decisions.
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project “Smart Tourism Destination: shared tourism intelligence ICT system in crossborder area Badajoz-Elvas” is EUR 978 071,24, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 733 553 through the “Spain - Portugal” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.