With the return to normality on the horizon, Granada wants to get back on the list of world tourist destinations and promote the assets that, before the pandemic, attracted about two million people per year to the Spanish province. And, to achieve this, it will put the advantages of the digital world at the service of those who visit: TurinGranada is the name of the project that will turn this Andalusian province into a smart tourist destination counting on the Ubiwhere’s participation, for this purpose.

The Portuguese company was the winner of the international public tender for the digitalization of the tourist destination of Granada, where it will implement its Urban Platform, an urban management solution, now adapted to the tourism sector. The novelty was one of the projects highlighted in the company’s stand at the Smart City Expo World Congress, held last week in Barcelona. “First of all, Ubiwhere’s role in the project is a privilege given that we were the first Portuguese company to win a project of this size in Spanish territory. This demonstrates that the solutions developed already have a high degree of maturity, worthy of international recognition,” says Nuno Ribeiro, co-CEO of Ubiwhere.

With this challenge, the tool made in Portugal gains a “new scope of application”. It will “aggregate all the region’s tourism information, enabling the analysis of the tourism sector performance and the socio-economic impact on the territory, through a single screen”. This information will also be available on an open data portal and can thus be used by other tourism agents to develop new offers.

In addition to creating a comprehensive system for the intelligent management of tourist services, TurinGranada also includes the reinforcement of communication aimed at a new, more digital visitor profile. Among other things, the creation of a mobile app, the development of new content formats with a strong focus on the visual component (interactive, augmented reality, 360º, etc.) and the development of a model of smart signage in “key assets”, such as the Universo [Federíco García] Lorca and the Granada Geopark. The impact of all this can then be “measured” using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, articulated and interactive with digital mechanisms to evaluate the tourist’s perspective and with a system of satisfaction surveys, explains Ubiwhere.

TurinGranada arises from the Spanish province’s desire to “transform the traditional tourism management model, evolving towards new forms of destination management” as Francisco Reyes, the Granada provincial tourism council director, said to Smart Cities. And taking advantage of the “Smart Tourism Destinations” call for proposals, integrated in Spain’s National Plan for Smart Territories, the intention gave shape to the project, which ended up being one of the 25 selected to receive the support of around 2.8 million euros. The call for proposals was launched by Red.es, a public entity linked to the Spanish Ministry of Economic and Digital Transition and responsible for executing and implementing the neighbouring country’s digitalisation plans. The programme will co-finance 67% of the total project budget, with the remaining 33% being borne by the province.

Digital helps in the post-Covid-19 upturn.

In 2019, the number of people visiting Granada recorded an all-time high close to two million, a trend that was eventually halted by the emergence of Covid-19. The province expects that the tourism promotion strategy now adopted can help rescue this upward momentum, responding not only to the pandemic crisis but also “highlighting and reinforcing [the territory’s] differentiating values with a long-term vision”.  It is also hoped that the digital tools to be implemented by the project can serve as support for decision-making and are, therefore, “fundamental to ensure a solid and sustained recovery in this sector”, considers Nuno Ribeiro.

With this strategy, the province aims to improve the positioning of the “Granada” brand. They will invest in a “promotional activity that will tend to specialise by product and market, using channels and supports more suitable for each case, to attract more and better-quality tourists, that is, with more spending capacity, throughout the year”.

According to Francisco Reyes, the knowledge generated by the project will help, “in a decisive way, to face the challenge of the digital transformation of the province’s tourism sector, at its social, economic and environmental levels”, contributing to “quick” decision-making and to “improving the competitiveness of Granada’s tourism sector and its positioning as a national and international destination”.

Although smart tourism is the project’s primary focus, it also leaves the door open to the possibility of other applications for the solutions to be implemented. Francisco Reyes explains how: “By complying with the integrated smart city management systems standard UNE 178104:2017, [the initiative] will also serve as a basis for the development of future verticals in smart city, energy, mobility, environmental management, among others.”

For Ubiwhere, this can be an experience to be replicated in Portugal. According to the co-CEO of the Portuguese tech-company, “This concept built by Granada can be applied in any municipality or region in Portugal, undoubtedly preserving the identity of each territory, to enhance its specificities and distinctive characteristics”.

To go ahead with a project with these characteristics, Nuno Ribeiro adds, “only depends on the vanguardist way in which Portuguese municipalities and destinations see the important role that tourism and all the underlying dynamics can play as a driver of socio-economic development”.