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Translocal strategies for experimenting with smart tourism labs in Zumaia: the case of the Basque Coast Geopark, Basque Country (Spain)

Calzada, Igor ORCID: and Arranz, Ana 2017. Translocal strategies for experimenting with smart tourism labs in Zumaia: the case of the Basque Coast Geopark, Basque Country (Spain). Presented at: 1st UNWTO World Conference on Smart Destinations 2017, Murcia, Spain, 15-17 February 2017. Proceedings of the 1st World Conference on Smart Destinations organised by UNWTO. SSRN, 10.2139/ssrn.2920187

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Despite the geopolitical world context, which is characterised by increasing boundaries to human mobility in an uneven realm full of walls and borders, the current pattern of tourism has not been diminished. In fact, translocal mobility, reflecting a wide range of motivations, emotions, tools, destinations and strategies, provides new opportunities to analyse, experiment and propose new smart policies that facilitate the transition to unexplored tourism models. Particularly remarkable are the experiences in many places regarding the role of tourists as visitors and locals as residents in experimental interventions for empowering local communities in remote coastal regions. This is the case of the coastal village of Zumaia (Basque Country) in Spain, which is establishing a new participatory local strategy for tourism after two remarkable events with clear tourism-related consequences for the community: first, the success in attacting and gaining 50% of visitors to the high-valued geological area of the Basque Coast Global Geopark , particularly also known as the flysch, and second, the filming of scenes from Season 7 of the blockbuster TV series Game of Thrones in the surroundings of the village. This paper thus will depict the specific current touristic, social, economic and political context of Zumaia to better understand the project that has recently kicked off: ‘Experimenting with Smart Tourism Labs’. This project, based on ethnographic and strategic techniques derived from action research, aims to set up a participatory itinerary while implementing a prospective view by considering a wide range of stakeholders . The multi-stakeholder scheme will follow the Penta-Helix framework by encompassing local authorities, the private sector, academia and research centres, civil society and social entrepreneurs and activists. Ultimately, the inner perception and outside projection of the touristic assets shared by residents and visitors contribute as much as activities and the infrastructure in the village do toward establishing a credible translocal tourism strategy. Nevertheless, it has been suggested that Zumaia be developed as a ‘smart destination’ without input from the different stakeholders. As such, ‘smart’ technological solutions that take advantage of the so-called Open Data or Big Data, in the era of ‘dataism’, have not always been focused on necessities and usability. In order to shed some light on this debate, this paper will present some preliminary methodological guidelines to undertake the aforementioned action research project in the village of Zumaia. By blending hospitality management, experience economy, ‘knowmads’ and millennials and by connecting talent and sustainable tourism, among other trends, this paper explores the opportunities for Zumaia in the Basque Coast Geopark by setting up a ‘Smart Tourism Lab’. More broadly, the ‘Smart Tourism Lab’ will consider the village itself as an open platform merging technological ownership, local economy, culturally-rooted tradition, inclusive identity, international openness, political bridging (social capital), and social innovation for setting up an innovative touristic innovative strategy.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD)
Publisher: SSRN
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2022 10:14

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