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Overtourism: crowd control through ICT solutions

New technologies have offered a low cost and easy way to travel, but most tourist cities are failing to keep pace with managing the increased visitor flows. However, the same ICT sector is now being called on to deliver smart solutions to deal with overtourism and avoid the congestion of city centres

Digital Economy
Transport and Mobility
Society

Overtourism affects many of the world's beautiful cities, which often find themselves unprepared to deal with massive flows of visitors encouraged by low prices and easy mobility. This alienates residents as they suffer from higher prices, unaffordable housing, overcrowded facilities, water and energy over-consumption, noise pollution, waste, and damage to the environment and to cultural heritage. While new technologies are part of the problem, as peer-to-peer apps and social media have encouraged a focus on a small number of over-visited destinations, smart Information and Communications Technology (ICT) solutions can offer an exit strategy. London: Mr Bean drives tourists as The Pied Piper of Hamelin London was one of the first cities to come up with a tech approach to the problem. An example is a branded city app which was launched in 2017 and called Play London with Mr Bean. Its main goal is to help people discover lesser-known parts of the city and its surroundings, drive traffic to them and promote local business. Nicolai Elmqvist, co-founder and CEO of Pointvoucher, a company that developed the platform, explains: "We followed the example of Las Vegas, where an app was created for different targets. It's a virtual slot machine you can play for free; it allows you to collect points that become rewards, such as discounts on hotel accommodation." The London game features Mr Bean, an internationally known fictional character from a British comedy TV programme. In this version, he showcases the hidden gems of the city. While people play, they earn voucher points which can be used to buy real items in shops. Elmqvist says: "We wanted to create a link between local business and tourists, adding vouchers to their app and leading these visitors out of the city centre. And it worked. Thousands of vouchers were claimed and redeemed at participating shops. Many people played the game and discovered new London sites and attractions that they probably did not know existed." Read the full story here: https://www.matchup-project.eu/news/overtourism-crowd-control-through-ict-solutions/

Keywords

smart cities, sustainability, ICT, tourism, mobility