Smart Islands vs tourist saturation

The sustainable development of tourism: main topic in the World Smart Islands Congress.

Last April, the second edition of the Smart Island World Congress was held in Mallorca (Balearic Islands, Spain), where a total of 100 islands from all over the world met to jointly seek solutions to the new tourism challenges in the present and future.

Among the most important topics, the need to develop sustainable models of tourism development, as well as economic and technologic development, was discussed, enabling an exchange of knowledge between islands.

Over the past few years, an increase of tourism pressure has been detected, exacerbated during the summer season in the main Mediterranean Island destinations. Indeed, the numbers sometimes reach triple the population, with its consequent effects: lack of resources, saturation of services, waste generation, as well as coexistence problems with the local inhabitants.

In order to alleviate these effects and preserve the territory, some islands are already developing control measures, such as limiting the number of tourists per day in Capri, advance ticket sales in Murano and Burano, or limiting the entry of vehicles in Formentera and Ibiza, among others.

By analysing tourism Big Data, Mabrian Technologies’ platform offers a way to identify and predict possible saturation problems for the destinations, by measuring months beforehand important data such as flight searches, effective bookings, or the intention to travel to a destination at a global level (Social Networks analysis). In addition, the study of the interactions on Social Media in relation to a destination, during and after the visit, enables an understanding of concrete interests and satisfaction levels with the main tourist indicators of the destination, hotel satisfaction or security perception, among others.

Taking as an example 5 Mediterranean islands throughout 2017: Menorca, Mallorca, Mykonos, Santorini and Capri, we can clearly see how the volume of mentions increases considerably during the summer season, a clear indicator that these are the months of increased tourist pressure. However, the Global Satisfaction index (GTPi) calculated by Mabrian for these destinations does not seem to be particularly affected during the high season, in fact showing higher values than the annual average in July and August. All the destinations exceed the average score of 80 points (out of 100), with Capri being the best valued island with 90.23 points in the GTPi index.

As it is well known, the main travel motivation of the different origin markets to the 5 islands, is the sun and beach product. Mabrian Technologies allows to listen and analyse, not only the most demanded venues or products by the visitors, but also allows to discover potentials to be developed. Those can be opportunities to create new products that help to deseasonalise the destination, distributing the tourist pressure in a more homogeneous way.

Thus we can observe, for example, how Cultural and Natural products obtain a large volume of mentions in almost all the islands, as well as the Active and Gastronomic products. This information, followed by a more exhaustive study of the interests and perceptions of each one of the origin markets and different seasons of the year, provides very valuable information when making decisions. This helps to establish a long-term strategic approach based on making the most of the resources and the sustainability of the destination.

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