Smartmentality in Ljubljana: Power and Governance in Smart Tourism

Authors: Abbie-Gayle Johnson*, , Jillian M. Rickly , University of Nottingham
Topics: Tourism Geography
Keywords: Europe, Exclusion, Smart City, Smart Tourism
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 27
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Smart tourism, an extension of the smart cities concept, is perceived as a tool for achieving destination competitiveness. Scholars suggest that smart tourism allows for more inclusive practices and results in the provision of value for all destination stakeholders. Destinations chose to implement smart initiatives for sustainability, increasing efficiency and enhancing tourists’ experiences as a result of increases in global tourist arrivals annually prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although arrivals have significantly decreased due to the pandemic, destinations may still find it advantageous to implement smart initiatives in order to manage the spread of the virus. Working through the lens of Michel Foucault’s governmentality, this study challenges the existing positive assumptions about smart tourism by illustrating the various power mechanisms that serve to exclude some suppliers from engaging in smart initiatives. To do this, this paper explores the perspectives of tourism suppliers regarding engagement in smart tourism in Ljubljana in Slovenia. As Europe’s 2019 Capital of Smart Tourism, the city is a valuable site for interrogating the technologies of power that encourage and/or hinder participation, as well as those that produce smartmentality amongst destination stakeholders. Smartmentality is introduced as a new concept within tourism that draws on Foucault’s governmentality. It allows one to recognise that there is a behaviour that is enabled through mechanisms within smart places that influence stakeholders’ actions. As a result, this study serves to enable a more critical examination of smart development as such initiatives continue to develop and unfold globally.

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