ISLAMABAD: The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) is organising the second UNWTO World Conference on Smart Destinations from June 25 to 27. The conference will discuss the principles of 21st-century tourism destinations, marked by governance, innovation, technology, sustainability and accessibility. The Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) would represent Pakistan in the conference being a top travel destination of the world declared by British Backpacker for 2018. The event, which is being held for the second year in a row, will bring together experts from around the world to discuss the opportunities and challenges arising from the development, implementation and management of innovative products and services based on new technological solutions. “Innovation and technology present a unique opportunity to transform tourism into a more competitive, smarter and more sustainable sector,” said UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili. According to the Minister of Energy, Tourism & Digital Agenda of Spain, lvaro Nadal, the conference is an example of collaboration among all administrations to modernise the sector and improve it technologically. Ivaro Nadal said that Asturias has all the qualities for the event to be a success and surpass the 500-participant attendance figure of last year’s edition. “Asturias has always been committed to a sustainable tourism model. That is why we open our doors to this conference, where professionals from all over the world will put innovation at the service of intelligent and responsible tourism development,” said the regional Minister of Employment, Industry & Tourism of the Principality of Asturias, Isaac Pola. The conference will feature lectures and round tables in which participants will discuss the opportunities and challenges for tourism deriving from the most important digital trends such as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, the Internet of Things, Location Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Blockchain and Virtual & Augmented Reality. Other topics to be addressed include digital transformation within destinations, technological solutions to measure the impact of tourism, smart destination governance, the importance of new technologies for sustainable development, as well as the role of open platforms and data management to improve the competitiveness of tourism destinations. Academics and entrepreneurs will also have the opportunity to share their research on the following topics: evidence-based destination management, new technological solutions for monitoring sustainable tourism goals, the linkage between the circular economy and tourism, as well as the importance of accessibility in smart destinations. The deadline for submission of these research papers is April 30. Also until April 30, entrepreneurs and start-ups are invited to submit videos presenting their innovative services or tourism products for smart destinations. Published in Daily Times, April 16th 2018.