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EU to give two cities Smart Tourism awards

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The European Commision wants to drive innovation in the travel industry

Two cities of the old continent will receive the European Capital of Smart Tourism awards for 2019 as the European Commission aims to improve tourism in the EU.

As a part of the new initiative, cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants will be evaluated in four different categories that were chosen to help assess their Smart Tourism level. It also aims to “network and strengthen destinations, and facilitate the exchange of best practice”.

“The European Capital of Smart Tourism recognises outstanding achievements in four categories: in sustainability, accessibility, digitisation as well as cultural heritage and creativity by European city destinations,” the European Commission said in an official statement.

“Two cities will be awarded the title of European Capital of Smart Tourism, and an additional four cities will receive European Smart Tourism Awards for their outstanding achievements in the individual categories.”

With the title of European Capital of Smart Tourism, the two cities will also receive expert communication and branding support for a year, tailor-made promotional actions designed to boost visitor numbers, a promotional video, and a purpose-built sculpture for their city centre.

“The competition is open to cities in the EU with a population over 100,000 inhabitants. In EU countries where no city has more than 100,000 inhabitants, the largest city is eligible to apply.”

The purpose of the initiative is to drive innovation in the travel industry, as the area makes up one of the most important sectors of the Union’s economy.

“Tourism is the EU’s third largest socio-economic activity, representing around 10 per cent of the EU’s GDP. The sector plays a crucial role in generating growth and jobs, but still holds untapped potential, and the European Commission aims to keep European tourism ahead of the curve,” the EC said.

20 experts in each category will evaluate the current state of the cities that apply to the contest. In mid-August, the Commission will shortlist 10 finalists. On 7 November 2018, which happens to be European Tourism Day, the EC will hold the award ceremony in Brussels.

The two European Capitals of Smart Tourism 2019 and the four winners in each category will be invited to contribute to an exhibition on achievements in smart tourism.

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