European tourism: EU to reward sustainable practices 

The European Commission aims to keep European tourism ahead of the curve and foster a culture of excellence.

The European Commission has launched the next edition of the European Capital of Smart Tourism competition. This initiative rewards European cities for outstanding, innovative, digitalised and sustainable tourism practices.

Cityscape with big harbor canal and christinae church at dusk in gothenburg, sweden.
Cityscape with Big Harbor Canal and Christinae Church at dusk in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The competition has a proven track record of success. The 2023 European Capital of Smart Tourism is the fourth edition of the competition. Bordeaux and València were selected as the 2022 European Capitals of Smart Tourism, Gothenburg and Málaga as the 2020 European Capitals of Smart Tourism, while Helsinki and Lyon won the inaugural competition and jointly held the titles of 2019 European Capitals of Smart Tourism.

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Helsinki, the capital of the happiest country in the world, is a european pioneer in sustainable urban development.  
Helsinki, the capital of the happiest country in the world, is a European pioneer in sustainable urban development. 

In order to compete for the 2023 European Capital of Smart Tourism title, cities are asked to demonstrate their innovative tourism practices in the following areas: accessibility, sustainability, digitalisation, cultural heritage and creativity. Applications will first be evaluated by a panel of independent experts. In the second step, seven shortlisted cities will be asked to present their city’s candidature in front of the European Jury. The European Jury will select two winners, the European Capitals of Smart Tourism 2023, which will be announced in November 2022.

Taking over from the current European Capitals of Smart Tourism Bordeaux and València, the winning cities will receive expert communication and branding support throughout 2023 which will tell the story of the outstanding smart and innovative practices that made them stand out and become the 2023 European Capitals of Smart Tourism. This will include the production of a promotional video, a large hashtag sculpture to install in a prominent location, diverse promotional activities and visibility at EU level and internationally. The winners will also have the chance to join a growing and active network of smart destinations that were shortlisted in the previous editions of the competition, exchange best practices and learn from one another.

The European Capital of Smart Tourism is an EU initiative, currently financed under the COSME Programme. As such, the competition is open to cities across both the EU, as well as the non-EU countries that take part in the COSME programme.

To apply, city representatives are asked to complete an online form. The deadline for applications is June 1, 2022.

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