Is it important to be a smart tourism destination? Public managers’ understanding of destinations in the state of Paraná

Abstract The purpose of this article is to analyze how tourist municipalities in the state of Paraná understand and consider the importance of the concept of smart tourism destinations (STD) for their management. The study is justified by the relevance of the theme for destination management, considering the importance of new technology for tourism development. The originality of the study is twofold: the approach to the topic of smart tourism destinations in the context of the state of Paraná and the data collection method, coming from a country (Spain) that is a reference in the studies of smart tourism destinations. With the contribution of the theoretical framework it was possible to understand the concepts that permeate the smart tourism destinations, such as tourist destinations, destination management, information and communication technologies (ICT). This understanding was the base for the analysis carried out in the article. A mixed-method approach was adopted, since the quantitative and qualitative results were analyzed and validated through the pairing with the concepts discussed in the theoretical framework. The data collection instrument was designed by the University Institute for Tourism Research, University of Alicante, Spain, and adapted to the reality of the municipalities of Paraná, aiming to cover a spectrum of responses consistent with the perceived reality, the population of the study comprised 224 municipalities, of which 76 answers were obtained. As main results, we highlight that municipalities understand the concept and its importance for management, however, none of the destinations has governmental structures (regulatory frameworks), basic infrastructure or sufficient information to become, in coming years, smart tourism destinations.