UK cities go ‘smart’ to boost tourism

Smart technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) could entice more tourists to visit regions outside of London.

According to the WTM Global Trends Report 2015, carried out by World Travel Market London in association with Euromonitor International, only 9% of the 17 million visitors to London in 2014 ventured further north. But disruptive technology can help cities across the country attract tourists by highlighting what they have to offer and improving the visitor experience.

The report gives the example of Bristol, which has installed more than 200 beacons to help promote and enhance visitor experiences at key tourism sites including Brunel’s SS Great Britain, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and St. Mary Redcliffe church.

The iBeacons use Bluetooth connectivity to send and receive data to and from nearby smartphones, providing visitors with information relevant to where they are.

Bristol is part of the Government-backed UK Smart City initiative, which aims to make urban services more efficient for residents and visitors through IoT projects.

According to the report, embedded digital technology around cities can improve transport, accessibility and facilities, and some technological advances are even expected to become tourist attractions in their own right.

One such project is driverless cars in Milton Keynes, a trial of self-driving pods in pedestrianised areas, which visitors can access via smartphone app.

“UK cities are redefining their tourist offerings, with many turning to digitalisation and hi-tech solutions to attract visitors,” *said Euromonitor’s head of travel, Caroline Bremner. “This can range from simple smartphone applications and online games to sophisticated, smart cities that use big data to transform the urban experience for both residents and tourists alike.”

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