Smart city and smart destination planning: Examining instruments and perceived impacts in Spain

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The impact of technology on tourist cities and destinations has led to the emergence of renewed management approaches that seek to adapt the planning processes to new challenges and opportunities derived from the smart scenario. The smart city and smart tourist destination approaches are aimed at improving efficiency in management, the quality of life of the residents and the tourist experiences. However, little is known about how these ideas are being translated into real policies and whether they are having a real impact. The objective of this paper is to understand how the smart approach is being deployed in the planning processes of Spanish tourist cities and destinations, and its implications in terms of the governance, sustainability and data-driven public management. The planning instruments that guide the smart strategies of different Spanish cities are identified and analysed. This is complemented with a questionnaire administered among managers of the smart city and smart destination initiatives. The findings reveal the diversity of smart initiatives, their benefits and limitations. The results contribute to generating a necessary debate on the implications of the smart discourse for urban and tourism planning and enrich the international debate around this approach.