Last month, Arman Tabatabai wrote an intriguing article about how smart technology can help mitigate some of the societal problems caused by the rise of tourism. Since we at Tourism Tiger are in the business of promoting tourism, rather than curtailing it, we are always interested in ways to ensure that tourism remains sustainable.
Rather than trying to limit the amount of visitors through increased taxes or quotas, some cities have turned to new technologies in order to reduce headaches for both travelers and local residents alike. Tabatabai points out that many tourist disincentives have been ineffective up to this point, noting that “daily or upon-entry tourist taxes we’ve seen so far haven’t come close to offsetting the lost revenue from disincentivized tourists, who at the start of 2017 spent all-in nearly $700 per day in the US.” Coupled with the statistic from the World Tourism and Travel Council that approximately 1 in 10 jobs is in the travel or tourism sector, it becomes even more evident that we need to find ways to keep tourism from becoming a burden.
Luckily, a number of existing technologies can be adapted to fit the needs of major tourist cities. For example, take the navigation app Waze, which manages input from all connected users to create the ideal route. Applying such GPS and geo-tracking technology to tourist hotspots allows local governments to anticipate an influx of visitors and respond accordingly. If city officials see a number of tourists flocking to the Colosseum in Rome every second Tuesday in July, for example, they can increase the number of ticket sale lines available, add extra security, or even increase the hours of operation.
In a similar vein, movement data, according to Tabatabai, helps governments plan even further ahead, allowing city planners “to help effectively design street structure to increase usable sidewalk space and to better allocate zoning for hotels, retail or other tourist-friendly attractions.” Who hasn’t wandered through a busy museum, for example, and wished that there was a more efficient way to see the exhibits? And which of you have been to a famous tourist site only to spend the majority of your time jostling other visitors for a good view? While big data isn’t a panacea to these problems, it can alleviate some of the stresses caused by so-called overtourism.
To read more about other technological solutions to overtourism, check out “How cities can fix tourism hell” at TechCrunch.
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