Travel and tourism is a highly valued industry in the world and the growth in travel and tourism naturally leads to increased risks. In tourism, risk has been identified as, “the loss perceived and experienced by tourists during the process of purchasing and consuming travelling services at the destination” (Henderson, 2007), hence it is subjective to each tourist. TATE Global recent research shows due to safety concerns, 1/10 Americans have passed on an international travel opportunity, 94% is impacted in their trips while 46% will cancel the activities if they feel unsafe. Compared to other economic activities, success and failure of any tourism destination depends on its credibility to provide a safe and secure environment to visitors.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have been transforming tourism globally including travel risks management. But, researchers warn its necessary but not enough taking emergency management, travel safety precautions and early warning system confirming the necessity of an effective risk management solutions for tourism industry. Since tourists require connected ICT applications that are mobile, contextualized to location, socially enabled, with real-time interactions and immediate access to (personalized) information, applicability of smart tourist destinations concept to manage travel risks seems sensible to be discussed in order to gain benefit of emerging ICT trends to address this global problem.
Smart cities is a process, in which increased citizen engagement, infrastructure, social capital and digital technologies make cities more liveable, resilient and better responsive to challenges to achieve high quality of life (Department of Business Innovation and Skills, 2013). On the other end, Smart Tourism Destinations benefit tourism industry through enhanced information access for tourists and tourism organisations via integrated and centralised data platforms. Smart Cities are tightly connected to Smart Tourism Destinations as both present similar benefits and resulting services using digital technologies, but impacting two different audiences – citizens and tourists.
Most smart initiatives involve the use of disruptive technologies that allow things to be done that weren’t possible before. Essentially, there are three forms of ICT which are vital for setting up Smart Tourism Destinations, namely Cloud Computing, Internet of Things (IoT) and End-User Internet Service System (Zhang et al. 2012 as cited in Wang et al. 2013). There are few common aspects to these technologies; the use of the internet for information exchange, usage being independent of location (mobility) and need for a device to access information resources, which are essential for modern tourism risk management. Another study revealed tourism also has a high potential for mobile technologies and destinations could also achieve distinctive services by integrating social aspect within their service in order to share experience, enhanced communication and to open up possibility of engaging with fellow tourists as well as local people.
Real-time response and personalization are key requirements in tourism risk management apps at the location, in order to fix the problem immediately and ward off guests posting unsavory reviews online; the Mobile Living Lab is a perfect simulation to help capture tourists’ needs and preferences in real settings. Furthermore, from a tourist point of view personalization of information assist them in the decision making process by saving time. Therefore personalization is highly likely to be beneficial in overcoming travel risks. However, it also possesses a significant threat to users’ privacy. Hence, tourism service providers must facilitate users with quality information so they could understand the importance of sharing information and enable them to weigh risks with potential benefits.
Success of implementing a smart tourist destination rely on advanced techniques as well as administration process changes from legacy to smart processes, security contracts and standardization. For instance, smart city investment in Rio De Janeiro was accelerated by natural disasters, changing healthcare demands and growing prevalence of chronic diseases. Rio’s centre of operations data platform serves city to manage data and resources and improve efficiency of response. However, there are few key barriers to implementation of these ICT applications. It was found that travelers have a negative reaction on information exchange with Tourism Service Providers but, Engage Customer (2014) argues that millennials (demographic cohort born between early 1980s to early 2000s) are pleased to share their information.
Other barriers range from trust in data privacy, constrained demand from cities for smart initiatives even if the result actually saves money, underdeveloped business models for rolling out smart technologies, lack of technology-related skills and capacity, less interaction with people, errors in given information, not experiencing destination as it is, difficulties for older people and losing job as tour guide, system integrity, integration and convergence issues, awareness of the general public on Smart tourist destinations, requiring “re-thinking” of conventional behavior.