This article questions whether the innovation deficit observed in the tourism sector on a global scale also characterises the world’s leading power in terms of tourism competitiveness and whether Spain is taking the right steps so as to guarantee the future leadership of its destinations. Spain’s innovative framework will be analysed in its European context, placing emphasis on the innovative intensity of the most important tourist regions. Spanish tourism companies and their capacity for innovation will also be studied in relation to those operating in other sectors. Formulas for generating tourism industries capable of assimilating and creating innovation will be proposed as a way of tackling the transformations that the sector is currently experiencing with the emergence of smart tourism destinations, the sharing economy and other disruptive changes, such as artificial intelligence. It is important to take a long-term perspective of competitiveness in which innovation and digital transformation have become the centre of political, social and corporate action in the sector. Meeting these challenges will mean the implementation of a series of more specific policies and strategies that will foster Smart Tourist Destinations and the development of a more digitalised and responsible economy in which the collaboration between citizens and tourists within the destination is the frame of reference.