Catalonia is using big data and the Internet of Things to manage the flow of visitors during peak times throughout the day in a bid to tackle overtourism, delegates heard yesterday.
Speaking during the Using Technology to Manage Accommodation & Tourism Responsibly in Barcelona session, Eurecat, a non-profit organisation focused on technology transfer and integration, said it had established its Tourism Innovation Department this year to achieve greater insight into how Barcelona’s 20 million annual visitors move around the city, as well as manage the attractions they visit in real-time.
Solutions include using call data records taken through mobile network antennas, Wi-Fi tracking, the use of global system for mobile communication (GSM) sensors, and booking information from attraction’s websites.
Data is then fed into a system where a human controller makes decisions to manage tourism.
“We found that tourists visit between two to three districts a day, and four during the entire trip,” said Joan Borras, ICT and tourism project manager, Eurecat.
“At the Sagrada Familia, we discovered that 50% of visitors spend less than 50 minutes at the attraction and 20% of tourists, less than 20 minutes, while visitation peak times were around 10am to 12am.
“We want to suggest alternative places that people can visit at different times and on different days to make tourism more sustainable in the city.
“To do this, we are looking at incentives that will encourage people to visit other zones, implement restrictions in more popular areas and work with Google to promote alternative attractions.”
The talk also addressed the issue of illegal hosting – accommodation providers which don’t adhere to Barcelona’s renting laws, by failing to provide the required licence numbers in advertisements.
Barcelona City Council, which has recorded more than 16,000 incidents of unlawful tourism accommodation this year, has created a team of 20 to investigate suspicious advertisements on booking websites.
Eva Vidal, a Barcelona City Council representative said: “To facilitate the detection of illegal accommodation, we created a database of more than 25,000 advertisements, which we have been investigating through several methods since 2016.
“For example, we can trace the exact location of a rental using the comments and photography in the advertisement. This is not only to impose sanctions [on illegal renters] but to improve the overall tourism experience. As a result of our efforts, illegal activity has significantly reduced since 2016.”