Smart Tourism Technology for Conservation and Heritage Sites


Over the past few years, smart tourism has seen a boom in popularity, as more digital technologies have developed to ease the common pain points of travelling. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the technologies that are particularly beneficial for historic sites of conservation and heritage.

Live Streaming

Live streaming has long since been used by the entertainment industry to provide viewers with access to traditionally in-person experiences. Take online casinos, for example – card enthusiasts can play games of blackjack at Paddy Power which are hosted by a real dealer around a physical card table and live streamed to participants in real time. As players can converse with both the host and other players, this allows for an immersive and authentic casino experience. This same logic, then can be applied to the tourism sector, providing live, virtual experiences for those who cannot or don’t want to venture to the physical place.

Of course, this is even more pertinent for areas of conservation.


Whilst areas of the UK like the Lake District and the Highlands are known for their tourism industry, the nuance of this tourism is that increased footfall can damage the environment and heighten noise pollution in some areas. As the idyllic and untouched nature of these locations is what draws people to them, live-streaming events can provide tourists with an authentic, real-time experience without making a mark on the landscape.

Augmented Reality

Put simply, augmented reality (AR) imposes digital aspects into the real world, as opposed to virtual reality (VR), which creates an entirely new virtual environment. Both AR and VR can be used to create smart tourism experiences. However, AR is particularly promising when it comes to heritage buildings, which has led to a push from heritage sites in the UK and France to implement AR digital experiences. Just some of these locations include the National Trust Tin Coast, East Pool Mine, and the South West Coast Path.

Another location to implement this technology is Exeter Cathedral, which uses VR headsets, tablet computers, smartphones, and immersive rooms to create comprehensive AR experiences. This technology allows visitors to Exeter Cathedral to gain a unique view into the building’s past, the opportunity to speak to virtual avatars of historical characters, as well as access to previously inaccessible heritage artifacts.

GPS Tours

When you visit any tourist destination, chances are you’ll bump into large tour groups that appear on gas-guzzling coaches and block up the entire pavement. Not only can this be frustrating for those looking to explore, but it can have a larger environmental impact. For this reason, many prefer to do solo tours on foot, which are typically more environmentally friendly and cost effective.

That said, walking tours still need adequate informational and directional signage, which, in places of conservation or heritage, can spoil the view, damage the landscape, and take people out of the experience. Instead, Historic England has self-guided virtual heritage walking tours that work using the tourists GPS, bringing up photos, archive images, video and audio that are relevant to each location. Not only does this negate the need for physical signage, this also provides a more immersive experience for tourists.


And there you have it – just a few smart tourism technologies that are benefitting places of conservation and heritage. With these technologies, destinations can provide authentic and immersive experiences while also considering the wider environmental impact.