Why are smart destinations not all technology-oriented? Examining the development of smart tourism initiatives based on path dependence

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Destination practitioners and scholars have recognized the increasing importance of technologies, resulting in the implementation of smart tourism initiatives to overcome destination challenges before and during the COVID-19 pandemic period. While smart destinations are predominantly deemed to be technology-oriented, there have been calls for more collaborative and human-oriented forms of tourism development. This paper adopts a path dependence approach to explore the development of smart destinations and specifically why some smart destinations do not follow a technology path. The data were collected through semi-structured interviews with stakeholders involved in smart initiatives in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The findings illustrated that smart development draws on resources and activities associated with the past, which was confirmed by identifying the constitutive features of the path. Ljubljana’s sustainability path significantly influenced its smart development, which challenges the underlying predominant assumption of smart being equated with digitization. Developers can use the findings to hasten the implementation of smart initiatives while also being mindful that paths can restrict practitioners’ ability to change the focus of smart developments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalCurrent Issues in Tourism
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • Path constitution analysis
  • path dependence
  • smart destination
  • smart tourism
  • tourism development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

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