Smart governance for heritage tourism destinations

Research paper information:

Title: Smart governance for heritage tourism destinations: Contextual factors and destination management organization perspectives

Publication name: Tourism Management Perspectives, 2021.


Please cite this article as:

Mandić, A., & Kennell, J. (2021). Smart governance for heritage tourism destinations: Contextual factors and destination management organization perspectives. Tourism Management Perspectives, 39(October 2020), 100862.


The sustainable development of tourism is a major concern for destination management organisations (DMOs) in heritage tourism. Smart tourism advocates claim that technologically-driven innovations can help DMOs to optimise tourism development by addressing issues such as carrying capacity, stakeholder management and community involvement. This study enhances the understanding of smart tourism governance (SG), showing how contextual factors affect DMO perspectives of SG. A mixed-methods approach was used to investigate heritage tourism destinations in the United Kingdom. The results demonstrate that well-established DMOs do not perceive SG as potentially beneficial, as they already perform well in many areas in which SG promises improvements, such as citizen engagement, decision-making, and stakeholder engagement. Despite this, this research highlights the aspects of SG that these destinations can take advantage of as social inclusion, environmental performance and the provision of citizen-centric services. All of these can help heritage tourism destinations to optimise their tourism development. This research additionally demonstrates the effect of contextual factors, such as the level of public-sector support for tourism and the growing influence of non-tourism stakeholders in destination management, on DMO perceptions of SG and makes recommendations for how developments in the use of SG by DMOs can be made, in light of these.


  • Optimising tourism development is a priority for heritage tourism destinations.
  • Smart governance promises to enhance the optimization of tourism development.
  • Established destination management organisations already have effective governance.
  • Smart governance adoption in these destinations will require context-specific approaches.

Keywords: Smart governance; Heritage destinations; Contextual factors; Optimisation; Smart tourism; United Kingdom

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