The value of Smart Tourism
The European Capital of Smart Tourism recognizes outstanding achievements in smart tourism in European cities. Smart tourism responds to new challenges and demands in a fast-changing sector, including the evolution of digital tools, products and services; equal opportunity and access for all visitors; sustainable development of the local area; and support to creative industries, local talent and heritage.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the tourism industry. With many cities and destinations now looking to recover and grow back, it is relevant to develop and implement smart tourism practices in line with green and digital transition.
About the award
Tourism is the EU’s third largest socio-economic activity, representing around 10% of the EU’s GDP. The sector plays a crucial role in generating growth and jobs, but still holds untapped potential – especially in the area of smart tourism. Innovation, accessibility, and sustainability are the future of tourism, and the European Commission aims to keep European tourism ahead of the curve.
For more examples and a more detailed description of each category and additional information, please refer to our Guide for Applicants.
For this initiative the cornerstones of smart tourism are being defined by excellence of tourist destinations across the EU in the four award categories:
Accessibility includes services that are multilingual and digitally available to all travellers and visitors, regardless of their age, cultural background or their physical disability.
Being sustainable does not only mean to manage and protect your natural resources as a city, but to reduce seasonality impacts on the environment and to involve the local community.
A digital city uses digital technologies to enhance all aspects of the tourism experience, enabling simpler access to services for all travellers, as well as to help local businesses to grow.
Protect and capitalise on the cultural heritage as well as local potential and its creative assets for the benefit of the tourism destination, the industry and the visiting tourists in general.
Benefits – WHY APPLY?
Winners of the title of European Capital of Smart Tourism 2023 will receive expert communication and branding support in promoting their destination in the media and online, a sculpture for their city centre, a promotional video representing their destination and smart tourism practices, and many other promotional actions from the EU that are designed to raise the profile of the city and boost visitor numbers.
The competition is open to cities in EU Member States and COSME countries, with populations of over 100,000. In countries where no city has more than 100,000 inhabitants, the largest city is eligible to apply. For small states with total population below 1 million, cities with 10,000 inhabitants are eligible to apply. Population size should be checked against the EUROSTAT.
The EU stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Ukrainian cities retain the right to apply to the opportunities offered by the COSME programme.
How are the winners selected?
> Evaluation Step 1
All submitted, admissible and eligible applications are evaluated against a set of established criteria by a panel of independent experts. The evaluation by the experts determines which cities are the best performers in each individual category. Moreover, on the basis of their evaluation, the Commission then establishes a short-list of a maximum of 7 cities which will proceed to the next evaluation step. Meet the independent experts here.
> Evaluation Step 2
The shortlisted 7 cities will then be invited to present their case in front of a European Jury. Following these presentations, the European Jury selects the two European Capitals of Smart Tourism 2023.