The Making of Data-Driven Sustainable Smart City Communities in Holiday Destinations

  • Sudipta Kiran Sarkar
  • Michalis Toanoglou
  • Babu George


Cities are often multi-cultural and multi-ethnic melting pots with strong ecological resources that make them dynamic urban tourism destinations. Driven by digital and green technologies, today’s cities are becoming smarter and sustainable, attracting a new generation of digitally savvy yet ecologically conscious travellers. This study provides a conceptual overview of the connection between technology and sustainability in urban tourism contexts. Firstly, it provides an understanding on the mainly identified dimensions of sustainability in urban tourism contexts—urban ecotourism, food tourism, urban culturescapes and smart transport. These dimensions encompass types of attractions that reflect ecological and social sustainability in urban tourism contexts. Secondly, the dimensions of technologies applied in urban tourism contexts have been discussed, which includes Wi-Fi- and data-connectivity-enabled social media and user-generated content at attraction sites, gamification opportunities in urban tourism sites, mobile-based learning opportunities, green energy technologies and green/soft mobility technologies. The underlying strong interconnections and inter-relationships between technology and sustainability in terms of digital learning experiences for tourists, soft mobility technologies and state-of-the-art green technologies embedded in urban ecotourism attractions, as well as collaborative and co-creative tourist practices enabled by social media, have been broadly discussed.


Technology Sustainability Urban tourism contexts Green and digital technologies 


  1. Algie, J. (2014). Gardens by the Bay, Singapore: The coolest gardens in the world? Retrieved December 12, 2017, from
  2. Arcadis. (2017). Sustainable Cities Mobility Index 2017: Bold moves. Arcadis.Google Scholar
  3. Barber, M (2017). 11 urban gondolas changing the way people move. Retrieved December 29, 2017, from
  4. BBC. (2017). London buses to be powered by coffee. Retrieved December 21, 2017, from
  5. Bock, K. (2015). The changing nature of city tourism and its possible implications for the future of cities. European Journal of Futures Research, 3(20), 1–8.Google Scholar
  6. Buffenstein, A. (2016). Icelandic music festival hosts impressive Avant-Garde Art Program. Retrieved December 13, 2017, from
  7. Buhalis, D., & Law, R. (2008). Progress in information technology and tourism management: 20 years on and 10 years after the internet—The state of etourism research. Tourism Management, 29(4), 609–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Burke, B. (2014). Gamify: How gamification motivates people to do extraordinary things. Brookline, MA: Bibliomotion.Google Scholar
  9. Gebhardt, L., Krajzewicz, D., Oostendorp, R., Goletz, M., Greger, K., Klötzke, M., … Heinrichs, D. (2016). Intermodal urban mobility: Users, uses, and use cases. Transportation Research Procedia, 14, 1183–1192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Geneco. (2016). Case study: Bio-Bus. Retrieved December 21, 2017, from
  11. Gillan, A. (2014). Taiwan, home to the best street food markets in the world. Retrieved December 30, 2017, from
  12. Hanharan, J. (2010). Ecotourism and sustainability in the tourism sector. In L. Leonard & J. Barry (Eds.), Global ecological politics (Advances in Ecopolitics) (Vol. 5, pp. 171–229). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.Google Scholar
  13. Hanley, S. (2015). Hilton Hotels partners with Tesla and GE to add charging stations. Retrieved December 26, 2017, from
  14. Harris, B. (2017). Tesla’s electric truck ‘needs the energy of 4,000 homes to recharge. Retrieved December 28, 2017, from
  15. Hernandez, D. (2016). Las Vegas casinos seek to power their bright lights with renewable energy. Retrieved December 14, 2017, from
  16. Herrera, C. F, Herranz, J. B., & Arilla, J. M. P. (2012). Gastronomy’s importance in the development of tourism destinations in the world. United Nations World Tourism Organisation. Global report on Food Tourism (pp. 6–9). Madrid: UNWTO.Google Scholar
  17. Hirtenstein, A. (2017). London’s iconic red buses to run on coffee in bid to cut emissions. Retrieved December 29, 2017, from
  18. Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media. Business Horizons, 53(1), 59–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kastelein, B. (2004). Urban ecotourism: Impossible conundrum? Mexican cities must clean up their acts to keep tourists. Business Mexico, pp. 36–42.Google Scholar
  20. Kazakova, K. (2015). Tourism gamification examples and what is there for you? Retrieved December 22, 2017, from
  21. Kramer, M. (2009). Soft mobility—Measures for a climate-friendly transport policy in Europe. The Greens | EFA in the European Parliament. Brussels, Belgium.Google Scholar
  22. Merrick, J (2011). Glasgow and Edinburgh: The architectural rivalry. Retrieved December 13, 2017, from
  23. Negruşa, A. D., Toader, V., Sofică, A., Tutunea, M. F., & Rus, R. V. (2015). Exploring gamification techniques and applications for sustainable tourism. Sustainability, 7, 11160–11189. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Nualkhair, C. (2015). Bangkok’s best street food: A guide to dishes and districts. Retrieved December 30, 2017, from
  25. OECD. (2012). Climate change. Retrieved July 15, 2019, from
  26. Özdemir, G., & Çelebi, D. (2015). Reflections of destinations on social media. In V. Katsoni (Ed.), Cultural tourism in a digital era (Springer Proceedings in Business and Economics). Cham: Springer.Google Scholar
  27. Padilla, M (2017). A plug for electric car rentals. Retrieved December 27, 2017, from
  28. Peltier, D. (2015). The future of food tourism goes beyond the restaurant experience. Retrieved December 10, 2017, from
  29. Peltier, D. (2017). Local food trend keeps farms at center of tourism strategies. Retrieved December 10, 2017, from,
  30. Rapier, R. (2017). U.S. electric vehicle sales soared in 2016. Retrieved December 20, 2017, from
  31. Roberts, S., & Tribe, J. (2008). Sustainability indicators for small tourism enterprises—An exploratory perspective. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 16(5), 575–594.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rocca, R. A. L. (2009). Soft mobility and urban transformation: Some European case studies. TeMALab Journal of Mobility, Land Use and Environment, 3, 85–80.Google Scholar
  33. Rokka, J., & Moisander, J. (2009). Environmental dialogue in online communities: Negotiating ecological citizenship among travellers. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 33(2), 199–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rowell, C. (2017). Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, breaks new ground in sustainable building. Retrieved December 17, 2017, from
  35. Saarinen, J. (2006). Traditions of sustainability in tourism studies. Annals of Tourism Research, 33(4), 1121–1140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Santos, S. (2011). 2012 social media and tourism industry statistics. Retrieved December 22, 2012, from
  37. Sarkar, S. K., Au, N., & Law, R. (2013). Analyzing ecotourists’ satisfaction in socialization and knowledge sharing intentions via social media. In Information and communication technologies in tourism (pp. 313–326). Springer International Publishing.Google Scholar
  38. Seraj, M., & Ayesugul, T. (2012). Social network citizenship. In M. M. Cruz-Canha, P. Goncalves, N. Lopez, E. M. Miranda, & G. D. Putnik (Eds.), Handbook of research on business social networking: Organizational, managerial and technological dimensions (pp. 339–357). IGI Global.Google Scholar
  39. Sever, N. S., Sever, G. S., & Kuhzady, S. (2015). The evaluation of potentials of gamification in tourism marketing communication. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 5(10), 188–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Siemens AG. (2013). Annual report on sustainability. Retrieved July 15, 2019, from
  41. Tate, Z. (2017). Capitalism is losing support. It is time for a new deal. Retrieved December 30, 2017, from
  42. Transdanube. (2014). Transnational soft mobility and tourism marketing strategy for transdanube regions. Danube Competence Center.Google Scholar
  43. UNWTO. (2004). Sustainable development of tourism. Retrieved December 26, 2017, from
  44. UNWTO. (2012). Global report on city tourism—Cities 2012 Project. UNWTO, Madrid.Google Scholar
  45. UNWTO. (2017). The tourism sector highlights the potential of urban tourism and the need to move toward more sustainable practices. Retrieved January 5, 2018, from
  46. WCED. (1987). Our common future. World Commission on Environment and Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  47. WEF. (2017). Technology and innovation for the future of production: Accelerating value creation. World Economic Forum White Paper.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sudipta Kiran Sarkar
    • 1
  • Michalis Toanoglou
    • 1
  • Babu George
    • 2
  1. 1.Woosong UniversityDaejeonSouth Korea
  2. 2.Fort Hays State UniversityHaysUSA

Personalised recommendations