Ten Mediterranean tourist countries, including Croatia, are turning to the development of smart and sustainable tourism through cooperation within the European SmartMed project, which is headed by the Croatian Tourism Ministry and which is expected to result in new business models and pilot initiatives by mid-2022.
This was stated at the opening conference of the SmartMed project, which was organised by the Tourism Ministry in Zagreb on Monday and which brought together representatives of almost all the countries involved, including two non-EU members - Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
"The SmartMed project started in September 2019 and will last until June 2022, by which time we will first develop, with destination stakeholders on the ground and partner-countries, smart business models for tourism, after which we will present smart tourism pilot initiatives," the project head at the Tourism Ministry, Natalija Havidic, said.
She added that the project was financed with three million euro from EU funds and that its ultimate goal was to encourage tourism stakeholders in all Mediterranean countries to start dealing with common challenges such as overtourism, destination management, seasonality, human resources, the satisfaction of local residents and tourists, and finding smart technological and digital solutions to those challenges.
"This project can be described as a startegic project for the entire Mediterranean because along with local authorities, it also involves ministries, national tourist boards and cities like Barcelona and Dubrovnik. We expect it to offer numerous solutions for smart tourism that will become a part of tourism policies and strategies," said Havidic, explaining that smart tourism was a business model marked by innovation, new technologies and inclusiveness, that is, availability of tourism to all social groups.
The State Secretary at the Tourism Ministry, Frano Matusic, said that Croatia was already working on tourism sustainability and that the SmartMed project would be important for the entire Mediterranean because of a new approach to the use of various new digital tools.
"Croatia is already working on a major digital tourism project, which has already been recognised in the world for its innovation and the quality of the eVisitor system," said Matusic.
He pointed to the importance of destination networking and the focus on sustainability.