Smart Tourism award recognizes sustainability and digitization in the sector

COVID-19 has changed the tourism industry, but this award recognizes cities that are responding to the changes with increased digitization and accessibility.

The European Capital of Smart Tourism 2022 honors two cities that represent smart tourism. These cities respond to the challenges of a changing sector and incorporate digital technologies and products in order to create a seamless tourism experience for all visitors.

Tourism is about 10% of the EU’s GDP and is the EU’s third largest socio-economic activity.
Therefore this sector is extremely crucial for the economy and represents increased opportunities for jobs and innovation.

For this award, smart tourism consists of four categories. First, the European city must have accessibility. This means that there are multilingual and digital tools for visitors of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Next, the city must be sustainable by reducing seasonality impacts on the environment. There must be participation from the local community as they work to protect natural resources. A city with digitalisation includes the use of digital technologies to improve the tourism experience. It creates an easier process for travellers and also encourages the growth of local businesses. The final category is cultural heritage. This allows cities to capitalize on their cultural heritage and local potential for the benefit of the tourism industry.

The Smart Tourism award is available to all EU Member States and COSME countries who apply and have populations over 100,000 people. Submissions will then be evaluated on a set of established criteria by independent experts. Seven cities will be invited to present in front of a European Jury and in the end two cities will be selected.

Winners will receive updated branding and promotion in the media and this will ultimately raise the profile of the city. It will boost tourism to the area and represent their smart tourism practices.

Despite constant changes in the sector, COVID-19 has created an opportunity to improve the tourism experience. Smart tourism changes can be implemented during this transition.

Source: European Capitals of Smart Tourism

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