Two cities will be awarded the status of European Capital of Smart Tourism in a new initiative to drive innovation in the industry.

The European Commission launched the European Capital of Smart Tourism initiative today to recognise outstanding achievements in smart, innovative, sustainable and inclusive tourism.

It will promote the ‘smart tourism’ offer and showcase inclusive, culturally diverse and sustainable practices to tourism development shown by European cities.

The two winning cities must demonstrate innovation, creativity and excellence in four categories – accessibility, sustainability, digitalisation, cultural heritage and creativity.

They will each receive expert communication and branding support for a year, a marketing video, purpose-built sculpture for their city centre and tailor-made promotional actions.

A further four European cities will receive thematic European Smart Tourism Awards for their achievements in the four categories.

Tourism is the EU’s third largest socio-economic activity – it represents almost 10% of EU GDP and supports 25 million jobs. By rewarding exemplary practices of smart tourism, the European Union seeks to encourage innovation at the level of tourism destinations, culturally diverse and inclusive tourism offers and highlight the multi-faceted contribution of tourism to sustainable development.

The awarded achievements will be presented in a special exhibition and award ceremony in Brussels on November 7.