Helsinki & Lyon: pioneers in a smarter future as European Capitals of Smart Tourism

From 6 – 10 March, the 2019 European Capitals of Smart Tourism were at ITB Berlin, one of the world’s leading travel trade fairs. At the event, both Helsinki and Lyon impressed visitors with a stand display of the smart tourism initiatives in place in the two cities, which included videos and VR experiences. Additionally, representatives from the two smart tourism capitals spoke at the prestigious eTravel stage to crowds of technology journalists and stakeholders from the travel tech sector.

Jukka Punamaki from Helsinki presented his city’s pioneering open interface of three databases, which offer up to date information about events and activities to anyone using the myHelsinki website – or the services of a company that has partnered with the city’s marketing department. He was then joined on stage by Blandine Thenet from ONLYLYON Tourisme et Congres, who took the audience through Lyon’s groundbreaking new app – ONLYLYON Experience. The first visitors will be able to download the app later this month – they can expect push notifications, with activity suggestions that are precisely tailored towards their preferences whilst on the go in the city.  


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In February, the European Commission launched the European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020 competition. The initiative rewards European cities for outstanding, innovative and sustainable tourism practices. To apply, city representatives are asked to complete an online form. The deadline for applications is 10 May 2019 at 18:00 CET.

In order to compete for the 2020 European Capital of Smart Tourism title, cities are asked to demonstrate their innovative tourism practices in four areas: accessibility, sustainability, digitalisation, cultural heritage & creativity. Applications will first be evaluated by a panel of independent experts. In the second step, up to 10 shortlisted cities will be asked to present their city’s candidature in front of the European Jury. The European Jury will select two winners, European Capitals of Smart Tourism 2020, which will be announced in October 2019 at an Award Ceremony.