Tourism is a crucial sector as part of a growing service economy for the creation of jobs and income, stimulating regional development, and supporting local communities.
The exact long-term impact of the COVID-19 crises and respective measures by national governments is not yet certain, but a rethinking of the tourism sector is taking place worldwide. Interest in smart tourism is increasing and connectivity is becoming more important. Digitalisation aims at enhancing the tourist experience, improving the efficiency of resource management, and maximizing destination competitiveness and sustainability. Particularly urban touristic areas focus on intelligent routing including timetables and alternate transport options, and automated multimedia guides, linked to the exact location of the tourist. Tourist apps and maps are often integrated with local transport systems and platforms. Point of interests, Near Field Communication, location tagging, and bar codes gain importance for acquiring further information (on the street or in museums) sometimes complimented by virtual and augmented reality applications. Museums and local sights are upgrading their systems and allowing for digital planning and access (including virtual cues, especially in the frame of sanitary measures).
Remote areas which attract tourists as well as community-based travelling projects and outdoor adventure activities are particularly in need of location-based services (smart guides). This includes information about landscape, history and culture as well as location services (e.g. emergency alert function and live tracking). Real-time services include updated and reliable maps and weather reports, including ski conditions and avalanche warnings. The tourism industry relies also on high resolution images for the development of 3D views, virtual flights and digital panoramas for marketing purposes. 3D virtual reality planning tools are helping tourists as well as local policy makers (protection of wild-life or land monitoring).
Given the increasing numbers of travellers and the importance of the sector, policy makers have a need for accurate data on tourist flows and the impact of tourism for statistical and policy purposes. Cultural heritage sites require protection from ground movement and other geophysical and meteorological changes and risks (including man-made risks). Ensuring environmental sustainability while numbers of visitors are increasing is a task satellites support through the monitoring of human impact on the environment.