These days, everything is becoming ‘smart’, and tourism is no different. Smart tourism allows destinations to provide unique and immersive digital experiences, as well as enhance the tourist experience. So, let us take a look at some of the pioneering technologies that have helped, or are helping, to boost smart tourism in the UK.

Live Streaming

Live streaming technology has long since been used in the entertainment industry, allowing people to enjoy traditionally in-person experiences virtually. This is especially the case in online casinos. When you play Spin Till You Win game you will be able to play traditional roulette in real time, live streamed from a studio using HD cameras, and hosted by a real croupier. The video is then overlaid with intuitive graphics such as a 3D roulette wheel, which are triggered in real time by specific elements of the gameplay.

This logic can also be applied to the tourism industry. There are some places such as the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, or the Scottish Highlands where, whilst increased tourism boosts the local economy, higher footfall can also have a negative impact on conservation and environmental factors. Here, live streaming can be used to provide virtual experiences which are authentic and immersive. Graphics can then be laid over the top with facts, figures, and an explanation of the importance of conserving these areas of natural beauty.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

Put simply, virtual reality (VR) creates a whole new digital environment. On the other hand, augmented reality (AR) imposes digital elements onto the real world. Again, whilst these technologies are more commonly used in the entertainment industry, they can also be applied for tourism – something that was largely pioneered in the UK by the city of Manchester.

In 2016, Manchester was named the European City of Science. In celebration of this, Manchester began developing AR and VR tourism experiences using Samsung 360 cameras and Google Cardboard. Just a few of Manchester’s tourist experiences to get an AR and VR makeover over the years include Manchester Jewish Museum, Manchester Art Gallery and People’s History Museum. This same technology has also been applied to other UK destinations like Bird Hive in the Lake District and the Geevor Tin Mine Museum in Penzance.

Manchester Art Gallery” (CC BY 2.0) by scotted400


The 5G Smart Futures showcase, hosted by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) broke new ground in 2019, launching an event dedicated to demonstrating the potential of next-generation 5G technologies, particularly in the tourism sector. Just a few pioneering technologies that came to fruition after this showcase include the 5G-supported Mativision broadcast of Bristol Pride and Harbour Festival, as well as the connectivity concerns being addressed but the University of Bristol, Bristol City Council, Zeetta Networks and IBI.

Since then, 5G technologies have only continued to skyrocket in their innovations and applications. As more and more locations invest in 5G networks, this provides tourism the opportunity to get creative in the digital experiences that they offer, without worrying about connectivity, loading speeds, and traffic volume.

As you can see, the UK has long since broken new ground when it comes to smart tourism – particularly when it comes to 5G, live streaming, AR and VR. All that’s left to do is explore the smart tourist experiences near you, and see what the future holds.


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