5 things you should know before creating your tourism portal

1. What is a tourism website?

2. 7 things to consider when creating a tourism portal

3. 3 Tourism websites that attract tourists.

4. What do the official standards say about creating a web portal?

5. What modules should my portal have if I’m starting from scratch?


1. What is a tourism website?

The main difference between a web portal and a conventional website lies in its scope and focus.

A web portal, on one hand, offers a wide range of services like search engines, sign-up and log-in systems, interactive tools, and personalised services.

Plus, web portals tend to incorporate information from different sources and offer a more comprehensive and targeted experience for tourists, providing a single point of entry to access online resources, services and communities. That’s great, but…

When was the last time you used a travel website to plan your next trip?

You probably ended up using Google, Tripadvisor, etc. That’s because tourism portals are all the same: they contain a lot of information, so much that you could write a thesis, and what we care about, just like you, is getting people to visit to the destination, and to do that you have to grab their attention, speak to them in their language and show them personalised information.

And to show you what I mean, I’m going to tell you a story, one that I’m sure will sound familiar.

My wedding date was set for September 2021 and instead of the typical engagement present, I asked my wife for an experience, something “super original”: a trip to the Greek islands.

It was definitely a wise move to want to take a trip during a pandemic, so we had to wait two years before we could make that getaway a reality. Because I knew I was going to write this post, I took my ERP (like an Excel but cooler) and started to count all the hours involved in planning the trip (and keep in mind that I already knew where we were going).

The first thing we did was to search for “Greek islands to visit in 7 days” in Google. Surprise! It was all blogs, Tripadvisor and no official web portal in the search results (which is normal, since a town or city website “isn’t supposed to” recommend one business over another, since it has to be democratic). First try: 2 hours).

After checking some seven blogs and watching YouTube videos, we decided to start in Santorini (they all agreed) and here is where the variations start: the itinerary you choose depends on the blogger who inspired you and how much their travel style aligns with yours. 

In our case we choose Naxos and Paros, but there was still a lack of information from official sources every time we searched. (16 more hours).

Once we decided which islands we wanted to visit and our itinerary, we did check out the official websites for each islands to look at transfers. Surprise! Everything was in either Greek or English (which is why they didn’t pop up in our search results). 

It took so many clicks to find the information we needed that we ended up resorting to a forum to finish planning our trip. (3 hours)

Conclusion: just like I’m sure it’s happened to you more than once, we never got any information from the official web portal. Test it for yourself by typing in “What to see in Madrid in 3 days” or “What to do in Málaga as a family”. Official websites don’t show up in the search results. 

If you plan your own trips, you know that beyond being inspiring, what you’re looking for are results that make things easy for you and don’t require 21 hours to plan your trip. (2+16+3).

2. 7 things to consider when creating a tourism portal

Websites that “hook” tourists have to tell stories, but even more importantly, they need to be easy to navigate, so it would be absurd not to take advantage of the techniques of web portals that have invested the most in studying user browsing behaviour, such as Amazon and Booking, and adapt them to your website.

Although some of these tips are already covered in the official standards (I’ll touch on this later), none of them apply to tourism web portals (well, there’s always an exception to the rule, and I’ll show you some examples later).

Of course your website will meet all the standards of accessibility, security and data protection, and it will be visually appealing, but without a doubt your number 1 goal is going to be “to convert tourists”.

These are the 7 things you need to consider when creating your web portal


1. The 3-click rule. Provide only a few options and keep the relevant elements and links close and easily reachable; the more time users need to reach a target, the more frustrated they’ll get (Fitts’s Law). You have to create a clean design that focuses on what really matters, so that users click on the “call to action”, which is where we want them to go.

2. When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one. If you want to attract tourists, talk to them directly (remember, it was a blog that we finally listened to when planning our trip to Greece). Include the experiences for each type of tourist (or buyer persona as the hipsters say) in the menu, setting you apart from the competition and following a niche strategy.

3. Dynamic and interactive content. If your web portal is static then you’ve got a problem. And I’m not just talking about seasonally changing the messages in the header or adding new resources. The calendar and activities are the most important sections that tourists check daily, and of course make it easy for them to book (or at least provide them with the link).

4. Getting the users’ email is paramount. Trip planner, newsletter, content download through landing pages, chatbots and forms: the entire strategy is focused on getting users to register so that we can feed the info into the CRM.

5. Sales don’t happen on the first visit. Once you get users to sign up, personalise the conversation and let them know that you’re looking forward to their visit. Thanks to the CRM you can stand out from other destinations by sending users updated events, plans, etc. As Elvis would say, “You were always on my mind”.

6. Take social media icons out of the headers. They’ve just made it to your website and you want to kick them out? Your only purpose is to capture the lead to feed the CRM; the more time tourists spend on your website, the better.

7. 70% of tourists now find travel inspiration on their phones. Videos, live webcams, planners, menus, etc. – everything you design for desktop PCs must be equally intuitive in their mobile version, since this is the channel where visitors get inspired to choose their destination.

3. 3 tourism web portals that attract tourists.

“That’s all fine and good, but I have to show all the information about what my destination has to offer”. Even though we’ll write a post analysing the main web portals later, let’s take a look at three that do a great job attracting tourists.

1.  https://www.turismoregiondemurcia.es/ The web portal of the Region of Murcia stands out because:

. They created a page for each buyer persona called “What to do”, which users can get to in a single click, and the calendar and activities are always in the top menu (blue call to action).

Costa cálida

. To capture the lead, they created a guide for each type of traveller using a banner, as well as the blog and newsletter section, with news, plans and contests.

buceo-region de murcia

. They have a top 10 list for each town, with the must-see sites to visit, focusing on first visits and the highlights.

. Accessibility module to adapt to different disabilities, bringing the website into compliance with official standards.

2.   https://www.visitvalencia.com/ An example of a foundation that uses its portal as a page to sell services (tourist card), where everything is focused on obtaining the tourist’s lead.

– Daily guides of things to do, and when you download them you’re asked what you’re most interested in to create a profile of the buyer persona.

Valencia en 3 días

– Calendar by days to see events using tags, simple menu, clean design with limited options, and call to action to capture leads.

– Chatbot to provide support and get the lead.

3. https://www.spain.info/es/planificar-viaje-espana/ It’s quite the challenge to put all of Spain on one website, but this portal manages to do it as a first point of contact, and we love its planner.

– Tourists can create a travel plan according to their interests, and they can also add the resources they like the most in a sort of “travel journal”, and then send it to a friend; this captures both the tourist’s lead and the visitor’s lead for the CRM.

– Menu with limited options and clean design for easy navigation.

planificar viaje

4. What do the official standards say about creating a web portal?

Does it have to comply with the standards? It seems like there’s a new one every day

Well, here we’re going to go over the main Spanish standards (UNEs) that affect tourist destination websites. Complying with them is always recommended, but it’s better if the person who is going to create the portal is familiar with these standards, right?

These are the 4 standards for creating tourist destination websites:

1. The UNE 178505:2022 standard framework for the creation of tourist destination websites. Everything a web portal needs to comply with, created by SEGITTUR.

a. Requirements:

i. Value proposition: The web portal has to establish a clear value proposition, defined according to the objectives pursued by each destination.

ii. Mandatory content: The web portal must include minimum essential information to meet users’ needs, such as mobility information, calendar, etc.

iii. Recommended content: Beyond the mandatory content, the standards recommend including elements such as social media integration, booking options and reviews.

iv. Focus on diversity The web portal needs to take accessibility and inclusiveness into account, ensuring that all people, including those with disabilities, can easily access and use the site.

v. Usability: The web portal should be easy to use, with an intuitive and user-friendly interface.

vi. Data protection: Security measures should be implemented to protect the confidentiality and privacy of user data.

b. Phases:

i. Analysis and conceptualisation: A detailed analysis of the objectives, needs and characteristics of the tourist destination is performed in this phase, defining the value proposition and content required for the web portal.

ii. Development and implementation: The web portal is designed and built in this phase, following the requirements and guidelines established in the standard. The mandatory and recommended content are included, usability is ensured and data protection is guaranteed.

iii. Maintenance and development: Once the web portal is up and running, regular maintenance and improvements and updates are required based on the changing needs of the tourism destination and users.

2. UNE 178506:2022 standard for the search engine optimisation (SEO) positioning of tourist destination websites. It establishes additional requirements and recommendations to meet in terms of search engine optimisation. These are the main requirements and phases:

a. Requirements:

i. Visibility: The web portal has to be visible to search engines, which implies following content and information architecture guidelines that allow search engines to understand and present the content in a relevant way.

ii. Crawling and indexing: The website must be optimised so that search engines can correctly crawl and index its pages, which implies following technical and structural specifications.

iii. Search engine optimisation: SEO practices and techniques should be implemented to improve the portal’s ranking in organic search results.

iv. User experience: The website should provide a satisfactory experience for users, ensuring intuitive navigation, fast load times and relevant content.

v. Organic traffic performance: Practices that increase organic traffic from search engines should be followed, which implies the application of effective SEO strategies.

b. Phases:

i. Analysis and planning: An exhaustive analysis of the keywords that are relevant to the tourist destination is conducted in this phase, and content and search engine optimisation strategies are planned.

ii. Implementation and optimisation: Create high quality and relevant content that is designed to meet tourists’ needs. Use keywords in a natural way and avoid excessive or forced use. Make sure the content is unique, useful and appealing to visitors.

. This includes optimising meta tags, URL structure, headers, page loading speed, mobile compatibility and other important technical aspects.

iii. Monitoring and continuous improvement: Once the website portal is up and running, regular performance monitoring and adjustments and improvements need to be made based on the data and results obtained using tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. This makes it possible to improve search engine optimisation and enhance the user experience.

3. The UNE 301549 V3.2.1:2022 standard for accessibility requirements for ICT products and services and the WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) accessibility standard to ensure accessibility for people with disabilities.

a. Compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), including criteria such as visual perception, site operability, content comprehension and compatibility with assistive technologies.

b. Tagging and semantic structure: The website should use proper semantic structure, including the correct use of HTML tags to mark headings, paragraphs, lists and other content elements. This helps users navigate and understand the structure of the site.

c. Alt text for images: All images should have descriptive alternative text that can be read aloud by screen reading software. This gives visually impaired users access to the information that visual items convey.

d. Colour contrast: Colour combinations that meet contrast standards should be used to ensure that the text is legible for people with visual impairments or reading difficulties.

e. Navigability and keyboard navigation keys: The website should be easily navigable using only the keyboard, without relying solely on using a mouse. This is essential for people with motor disabilities or who use assistive technologies.

f. Transcriptions and captions: Transcriptions and captions should be provided for multimedia content, such as videos and audio files, to make them accessible to people with hearing disabilities.

g. Forms and standards compliance: Forms on the website should be accessible and use techniques like correctly associated form labels, field validation, and clear error messages.

4. UNE 178503, called “Smart tourist destinations. Semantics applied to tourism”. This standard is more focused on the website content management system (CMS) and aims to define a semantic basis for smart destinations, ensuring interoperability between the platforms of the various stakeholders involved, from the city and the tourist destinations to other participants in the development of digital content. This standard includes a vocabulary of more than 80 terms, a taxonomy and coding examples. These standards have been developed in collaboration with UNE’s Technical Committee for Standardisation CTN 178/SC 5 Smart Tourist Destinations and SEGITTUR, among others.

5. What modules should my portal have if I’m starting from scratch?

“The first part of the story wasn’t bad, but this is getting a bit dense”. I’m with you when we say that in 3 clicks you should be able access all the information, so I’ll summarise the main modules that a tourism web portal should have:

1. Top menu: This is where you highlight the most popular sections like the calendar and activities, plan your trip, and most importantly, things to do (focused on the different buyer personas that tend to visit the destination).

– A slider where you can feature videos and “clickable” news that you update by season.

Content search engine: essential for seeing any resource in seconds.

– Contact: Here’s where you should add a contact form and contact info (WhatsApp) so that visitors can get their questions answered instantly.

– Email for complaints and suggestions, which both stores the messages in a database and sends them along so that opportunities for improvement can be studied; users can also use the email to file complaints for misleading content.

2. Home: In this section of the site, you will continue to provide more visibility to the trip planner and the predefined itineraries according to the type of tourist as a way to get the lead.

– Tourist resources. They are sorted by popularity (web views) by default, but can be alphabetical, timetable, distance, etc., as well as by categories of different resources to facilitate planning.

– Events, activities, museums, beaches, recommended tours, information and interest, etc. Filters by interests to narrow down the information thanks to tagging and thus streamline navigation by type of tourist and interests.

– Calendar where users can see the active events during a certain period of time and links.

– Each element must have all the necessary fields, description, schedules, map, as well as any multi-language element like 360º videos, virtual tours, audioguides, PDFs, etc. It will be displayed as an iframe or new window.

3. Newsletter and blog: Design banners to attract the tourist’s attention and get their lead if they haven’t already provided their info with the planner, and use a landing page to describe the advantages of subscribing and the frequency of emails.

4. Site Map, Privacy Policy, Cookie Policy, according to standards, and 404 error page control.

5. Virtual assistants and FAQs to provide instant answers in different languages.

6. CRM to send communications and keep users coming back to your website.

7. Website dashboard interactions. Dashboards should log visitors’ profiles and know where they’re coming from and how they connect.

In short, are you going to build the same website as all the other destinations or are you going to try something different? If you want tourists to use your web portal to plan their trip, start thinking about new technologies such as GPT that let you adapt their stay in real time or another tagging system that provides a unique experience that will get them to give you their email address.

If, on the other hand, you want to post an infinite list of resources without a strategy behind it, you already know what will happen: the visitor will end up on a blog to plan their trip to the destination that pays the most to the influencer.

Don’t know where to start?

Como atraer mas turismo

Get the free guide to the 5 success stories on how to attract more tourism

Learn about the attraction techniques of 5 destinations, how they build loyalty and keep tourists coming back. Apply it now at no cost in your municipality.

Download the free ebook of our 5 success stories and discover how to achieve your goals.

Andrés Martínez CEO of iUrban.es, is a member of the DTI Network. We used to talk about artificial intelligence and how to digitalise tourist information centres; you can now make it a reality with GPT and our Cicerone platform.  Lover of domestic tourism, (especially food related), participant in some of the Smart Tourist Destinations projects with Red.es