Smart initiatives are gaining popularity from the development of smart homes and smart communities to the emergence of smart cities all around the world. Smart technologies like AI-powered digital assistants are becoming more widespread within the tourism industry, giving rise to the concept of smart destinations. Despite the growing awareness, the theoretical and practical knowledge of smart destinations remains fragmented and mostly speculative. The primary objectives of this research study are: 1) to develop a comprehensive framework of smart destinations through multiple case studies of the emerging smart destinations and interviews with the industry stakeholders, and 2) to construct and apply a smartness index based on the framework that could serve as a practical tool to assess the smartness level of various tourism destinations. The study adopts a Destination Marketing/Management Organization (DMO) perspective as these organizations are uniquely positioned to fulfill the key roles in coordination, facilitation, and governance of smart tourism. That is, the technological sophistication of these organizations and their destination management systems (DMSs) is assumed to reflect smart initiatives implemented destination-wide. The study employed the three-stage methodology: assessment of the DMOs' websites, interviews with the key industry stakeholders, and survey completed by the DMOs' representatives. The results of the survey were used to construct the index with Partial Least Squares-Structural Equation Modeling (PLS-SEM). Lastly, the index was applied to assess DMOs' performance in key areas that determined smartness of tourism destinations. As a result, the study developed a more comprehensive conceptualization of smart destinations than was currently available in the research literature. Furthermore, the study offered a practical tool that could assess destinations smartness and identify the critical areas for improvement. This research, therefore, offers a necessary foundation for the advancement of tourism research and the framework for destinations that aspire to become smart.


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Graduation Date





Wang, Youcheng


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Degree Program

Hospitality Management




CFE0008104; DP0023243





Release Date

February 2020

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Rosen College of Hospitality Management