This article contributes to the analysis of the relationship between urban renewal processes and sustainable development in mature beach destinations and the adoption of smart tourism. It takes as its case study Spanish destinations taking part in publicly-funded projects and plans designed to convert them into so-called “smart destinations” (SD). Its chief goals are to identify, through the Delphi technique, the smart tourism narrative behind the drive for creating SD, as well as to see how good a fit this is with the strategic positionings of mature destinations seeking to halt their decline or take on a new lease of life by introducing sustainability measures. Based on a review of the existing literature, we perform a critical analysis of this narrative to expose the contradictions arising when it is applied as a tool for urban renewal based on the implementation of sustainability strategies. The results aid with progress in two directions. Firstly, the article contributes new conceptual elements on the role of SD in the urban transformation of tourist destinations as a response to the challenges of global competitiveness. The second contribution, which is applied in nature and based on the study of a variety of Spanish tourist destinations, analyzes the impact the application of smart tourism-based technological solutions may have upon sustainability. Specifically, it examines the actions of different mass tourism beach destinations and discusses their actual ability to foster renewal in the field of tourism and offer solutions for overcoming urban sustainability problems. Lastly, it offers some recommendations for mature beach destination managers interested in implementing smart tourism projects based on sustainability criteria.
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