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European capital of Smart Tourism 2023, 7 cities in shortlist

Aahrus 2017, The opening ceremony Aahrus 2017, The opening ceremony Photo by EcocNews

Tourism is one of the fundamental themes of the competition for the European capital of culture because the title undoubtedly allows cities to be highly visible. And, in our opinion, it is no coincidence that 4 ecoc out of 7 cities have entered the short list to become the European capital of Smart tourism for 2023.

Obviously becoming the European capital of culture also means building new tourism models that are attentive to sustainability and the environment.

The cities shortlisted for the European Capital of Smart Tourism 2023 award were announced some days ago by the European Commission.

Presented in alphabetical order, Aarhus (Denmark), European capital of culture 2017, Gijón (Spain), Pafos (Cyprus), Ecoc 2017, Porto (Portugal), Ecoc 2001, San Sebastián (Spain), Ecoc 2016, Seville (Spain), Zagreb (Croatia) are the finalists selected from 29 candidates from 13 countries.

A short profile of each shortlisted city can be found here.

The competition was open to cities across the EU and the non-EU countries that take part in the COSME programme.

The applications were evaluated by a rigorous panel of independent experts. Applicants with the highest overall score across all categories made the cut. As a next step, the shortlisted cities will be invited to present their candidatures in front of a European Jury, who will select the 2023 European Capitals of Smart Tourism.

Coming with the title of 2023 European Capital of Smart Tourism, communication and branding support throughout 2023 will be provided to the winners. This includes a promotional video, a specially designed hashtag sculpture for the city to display, and tailored promotional actions designed to increase visibility at EU and global level and increase the number of visitors.

Since 2018, the competition has provided a platform to showcase outstanding practices and success stories. The victors from previous editions Helsinki and Lyon (2019), Málaga and Gothenburg (2020), València and Bordeaux (2022) are role models for smart tourism in Europe and top international rankings of sustainability, innovation, livability, and integration of smart practices.

About the initiative

The European Capital of Smart Tourism is an EU initiative, currently financed under the COSME Programme, that aims to promote smart tourism in the EU by rewarding cities for their pioneering smart tourism approaches in accessibility, digitalisation, sustainability, and cultural heritage and creativity.

Built on the successful experience of a preparatory action proposed by the European Parliament, the initiative seeks to foster innovative, sustainable, and inclusive tourism development, as well as spread and facilitate the exchange of best practices.

Smart tourism practices in Europe implemented by the applicants of the 2022 competition can be found in the ‘Leading Examples of Smart Tourism Practices in Europe’ report. Likewise, delegates from the European Capitals of Smart Tourism competition winners, shortlisted cities, and EU Commission’s representatives discuss in the EU Smart Tourism Podcast series the role of the European Capital of Smart Tourism competition in driving the smart tourism innovation and examine smart tourism practices that are shaping the future in Europe.


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