Exploring urban destinations by walking and learning about their heritage and tourist landmarks
GPSmyCity (https://www.gpsmycity.com) promotes walking by providing an opportunity to explore destinations at the pace chosen by tourists in accordance with their personal preferences and levels of physical fitness. GPSmyCity can, therefore, not only promote health and subjective-wellbeing among destination visitors, but also reduce greenhouse gas emissions that would otherwise be generated in the case of car travel. GPSmyCity has developed a free smartphone app (available on iOS and Android) which offers self-guided walking tours in over 1000 urban destinations around the world. As of September 2020, the app was available for 80 cities in England, including all major destinations, such as London, Liverpool and Manchester, but also a number of smaller/less popular destinations, such as Bournemouth, Southampton and Norwich. The app enables the choice of the length of a walking itinerary alongside its difficulty in line with time budget and level of physical fitness of visitors. It integrates historical commentaries on the main landmarks and/or places of interest. The app offers an opportunity for tourists to create their own walks in line with their personal preferences. The main beneficiaries of the app are destination visitors who can use smartphone technology to explore the destinations by walking at their own pace. Destination managers and tourism industry professionals are the key stakeholders as they develop the app development by promoting it through their networks.
To develop an app offering self-guided walking tours for destination visitors and maintain it by fixing bugs and providing on-going customer support, a software engineer is required. Travel commentaries can be provided by a professional tour guide or an academic specializing in tourism.
Evidence of success
Since its foundation, GPSmyCity has offered self-guided tours for over 1000 urban destinations around the world. As of September 2020, it has had more than 100000 downloads on Google Play and circa 500 user reviews with an average review score 4.1 (where 5 is the highest possible score).
Poor network connectivity in remote/rural areas represents the main challenge (which can be at least partially resolved by 5G mobile networks). Dependence on a smartphone with related issues of battery depletion requiring charging facilities is another potential drawback.
Potential for learning or transfer
This kind of app can contribute to incorporating walking in sustainable tourism mobility strategies and action plans, as walking is an important component of smart mobility, towards smart destinations. This good practice is transferrable to destinations looking for sustainable tourism mobility through the promotion of active mode of walking.