The SMARTMED project is glad to present the transferable and innovative Smart Tourism Business Model, one of the main results achieved by the partnership. The aim of this model is to provide a common and innovative vision and concrete measures and guidelines for smarter tourism in the Mediterranean area, considering global tourism trends and SMART cities policies and best practices.

The SMARTMED project tackles the lack of long-term vision for the Mediterranean as a destination, the disconnection between tourism and the wider territorial development framework and the lack of attractiveness of the region for innovative business in tourism.

As part of the project, the partnership has developed the Smart Tourism Business Model: a strategic framework that seeks to contribute to the development of the Mediterranean as an attractive, smart, and inclusive destination. More concretely, its focus is placed in strengthening the capacities of national and public authorities and making coordinated contributions to existing and future initiatives in the Mediterranean.

Based on preliminary research on existing policies, strategic and legal frameworks for SMART tourism in partner’s countries and the existing needs of the sector, the Smart Tourism Business Model builds on four specific SMART tourism development objectives linked to the main challenges identified.

Four key SMART tourism development objectives of the Smart Tourism Business Model

Within the SMARTMED project “SMART tourism” has been defined on the basis of four interconnected pillars: Sustainability, Cooperation and Participation, Human capital, and Technologies and IT. In line with these pillars, the Smart Tourism Business Model has broken down the general objective of developing smarter tourism in the region into the following four sub-objectives:

Objective 1. Sustainable tourism: preserving the environment and raising awareness of the importance of natural heritage management, including transition to renewable energy sources. Within this objective, special attention is put on local resources and the maximization of the contribution of the tourism activity into the economic prosperity of the host destination.

Objective 2. Inclusive tourism closer to citizens:  involving and engaging the local community in tourism development and planning, including the most vulnerable groups.  On the other hand, the contribution of visitors is considered key in order to ensure a satisfying and fulfilling experience.

Objective 3. Competitive and skilful tourism all year round: encouraging local production and local services provision all year round, as well as training skills and educating labour force for different jobs in tourism, fostering entrepreneurial skills and entrepreneurial culture in tourism.

Objective 4. Tourism that integrates technology and encourages innovation: enabling tourism employees’ digital literacy, encouraging and directing the development and application of innovative technologies in tourism, as well as setting digital platforms enabling destinations to be interconnected.

The aim of the Smart Tourism Business Model is to provide stakeholders with the right concrete actions and measures that can help achieve these four objectives and, consequently, contribute to the development of SMART tourism in the Mediterranean.

Four concrete measures included in the Smart Tourism Business Model

As a first measure, the Model encourages the creation of the so-called Smart Tourism Hubs, a set of institutions connected in a network that will support the long-term implementation of the joint business model as well as national and regional initiatives related to SMART tourism. The Hubs are aimed at research and innovation, education and exchange, networking, and promotion. Connected through the network they would ensure institutional support to the development, testing and promotion of new technologies and new concepts in tourism as well as ensure cross-country exchange of knowledge and practices.

As a second measure - complementary to the previous Smart Hubs-, the Model puts forward the setup of other platforms for cooperation. The Model therefore provides new means of communication and networking between tourism stakeholders, also taking into consideration the importance of interdisciplinary participation for tourism development. These platforms could be set at four different levels – local, regional, and national, plus the Mediterranean level embodied by the SMARTMED Hubs Network – to exchange experience, raise awareness on SMART tourism and debate challenges, solutions and discrepancies within the sector.

Furthermore, the Model provides advice and key steps for improving regulatory and strategic frameworks with the aim to transform them into truly and quality SMART tourism enablers. Among other specific guidelines, the Model puts forward the creation of a software solution for detecting regulatory barriers to SMART tourism and sets protocols for the exchange of good practices in removing them.

Finally, to complement the three above-mentioned measures, the Model proposes to foresee communication and promotional plans in order to give visibility to the other initiatives set up by the Model as well as to raise awareness on SMART tourism among the general public while influencing a shift of paradigm in the sector.
At the present time the Smart Tourism Business Model is being tested through multi-stakeholder pilot initiatives taking place in different Mediterranean territories and contexts, all of them tackling the identified challenges. The implementation of the model will enable the development of practical solutions and will be a way for the partnership to keep gathering recommendations and experiences on SMART tourism development.

You can read the whole document of the Smart Tourism Business Model here.