Turning on the Lights is a research report produced by Bristol Futures Global with support from Destination Bristol and the Digital Catapult. It  to sends a positive signal to Government and the Telecomms Industry that the UK Tourism Sector is keen to collaborate and to generate new value through digital innovation. 

The Tourism Sector is preparing for the step-change in capabilities that 5G promises. 5G technology is not yet widely available but our research identifies Disruptive Use Case ideas and Strategic Levers that could together enable a new approach to Smart Tourism and Smart Destination Management. 

This report was produced in conjuction with 110 organizations from across the South West of England and beyond, working in a variety of different tourist industries and destinations. Our conclusions were drawn from surveys, one-to-one interviews, and workshops. Our questions were focused on 5G, but we also took the opportunity to record people's individual experiences with Smart Tourism, both positive and negative.

The research highlights that the 5G opportunity is bigger than any individual venue or attraction. There is significant potential to harness 5G to deliver far more precise location-based information patterns, even to underpin dashboards to allow real-time interventions to manage and disperse peak  visitor demand. This type of capability is seen as particularly relevant to many cities, such as Bath, where there is a need to spread-out the visitor experience and encourage longer visits and to areas, such as Greenwich, where there is a need to better connect disparate parts of the offer to visitors


 What is Smart Tourism?

Smart Tourism is an important component of the Smart City. It explores how connectivity, data and digital content can create more immersive and inclusive experience as well as boosting visitor numbers and supporting new capabilities in managing destinations and dispersing demand.

 Why 5G?

5G is the latest generation of global telecoms infrastructure. It is specifically designed to support the seamless transfer of large volumes of data, creating the opportunity for very high definition video content, Virtual and Augmented reality. Whilst 5G is important a lot can also be achieved with 4G and existing Wi-Fi networks.

 Is 5G safe?

There has been some public concern and campaigning about the health impacts of 5G technologies, often relating to millimetre wave frequencies. Public Health England has recently updated its guidance, which suggests there is no evidence of health impacts. This guidance is available in the Useful Links section below.

 When will 5G be available?

South Korea was the first country to roll out a commercial 5G network. In the UK, EE, Vodafone, Three and 02 started rolling out 5G networks from February 2019. Deployment is initially focusing in on major cities around the UK and is likely to continue for several years and increase in pace as new 5G enabled handsets become widely available.


 Does smart technology detract from the visitor experience?

Some venues feel that they do not wish for visitors to use mobile phones and other devices because it distracts from the experience that they offer. Some are also concerned about the health and safety implications of people not paying attention to their surroundings. Our research suggests that there are more destinations who are keen to explore the potential of technology to create new, more personalised experiences and who feel that technology has a role to play in increasing accessibility and relevance to new audiences.

For more information about our 5G and Smart TOurism Projects: