Bordeaux and Valencia selected as 2022 European Capitals of Smart Tourism

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EU announces the two 2022 European Capitals of Smart Tourism for their excellence as tourism destinations in accessibility, sustainability, digitalisation, and cultural heritage & creativity.

 

Bordeaux (France) and Valencia (Spain) have been selected as the winners of the EU’s 2022 European Capital of Smart Tourism competition, following a European Jury meeting in Brussels on 26 October 2021. The two winners will receive their official award at the Award Ceremony during the European Tourism Forum gala dinner on 16 November 2021, an event co-organised by the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU together with the European Commission.In total, 30 cities from across 16 countries competed, out of which 7 shortlisted cities were invited to present their candidatures in front of the European Jury. Bordeaux and Valencia impressed the European Jury not only with their remarkable achievements across all four categories of the competition, but also with the outstanding programmes of activities they intend to execute during 2022, as well as their notable capacity to act as a role model for other cities.

The European Capital of Smart Tourism is an EU initiative, currently financed under the COSME Programme. It is built on the successful experience of the Preparatory Action proposed by the European Parliament and implemented by the European Commission. It aims to contribute towards raising the profile of Europe as a smart tourism destination and to setting up a platform to share best practices in the field of tourism among European cities.

It recognises exceptional performance by European cities as tourism destinations in four categories: Accessibility, Sustainability, Digitalisation along with Cultural heritage and creativity.

The two European Capitals of Smart Tourism will benefit from communication and branding support during 2022. This will include a promotional video, a purpose-built sculpture for their city centres, as well as bespoke promotional actions designed to raise the profile of the awarded cities and boost visitor numbers.

Bordeaux – the oldest region in the world for fine wines

Spread over 112,000 hectares, the largest and oldest region in the world for fine wines is home to 65 appellations, 7000 winemakers, 300 wine dealerships and around 100 brokers, with an average production of 5 million hectolitres per year.

Bordeaux is a cosmopolitan city with over 257,000 inhabitants where people and cultures meet.It is a place of creativity and a gateway to the South-West of France. Here, where multiple environments intertwine, the river that runs through the greatest vineyards in the world, all the way to the Gironde Estuary, is found – close to the Atlantic Ocean and Arcachon Bay. Bordeaux may well be an 18th century city, but it is proudly eco-friendly and innovative. While the Gironde capital constitutes the largest UNESCO-listed area in the world with 347 monuments, it is also a pioneer for urban regeneration. The city is fully committed to welcoming refugees.Bordeaux is home to the largest wine growing region in the world with 7000 chateaux and is at the forefront of the creation of the “wine tourism” concept: 2 million “wine tourists” visited the Bordeaux vineyards in 2018. Highlights include La Cité du Vin and the Bordeaux Wine Festival – now exported to Brussels and Hong Kong. More than 65% of the surface area for Bordeaux vineyards has received certification for their environmental efforts and €1.2 million has been invested in research, notably into the reduction of the use of pesticides. Since 2003, the city has laid down tracks for four different tram lines, culminating in a metropolitan network that stretches over 66 km. The trams are 100% accessible thanks to large sliding doors and step-free access. The river shuttle and buses are also completely accessible and each one has specially reserved seats for wheelchair users. A special guide has been created by the Bordeaux Tourist Office for those with disabilities, containing a list of all services and activities available to persons with reduced mobility.

Bordeaux is home to the largest wine growing region in the world with 7000 chateaux and is at the forefront of the creation of the “wine tourism” concept: 2 million “wine tourists” visited the Bordeaux vineyards in 2018. Highlights include La Cité du Vin and the Bordeaux Wine Festival – now exported to Brussels and Hong Kong. More than 65% of the surface area for Bordeaux vineyards has received certification for their environmental efforts and €1.2 million has been invested in research, notably into the reduction of the use of pesticides. Since 2003, the city has laid down tracks for four different tram lines, culminating in a metropolitan network that stretches over 66 km. The trams are 100% accessible thanks to large sliding doors and step-free access. The river shuttle and buses are also completely accessible and each one has specially reserved seats for wheelchair users. A special guide has been created by the Bordeaux Tourist Office for those with disabilities, containing a list of all services and activities available to persons with reduced mobility.

Valencia – home to three UNESCO World Heritage Declarations

Valencia lies on the Spanish South-eastern coast and is the third largest city in Spain with over 791,000 inhabitants. The picturesque city welcomes 2.2 million visitors every year and is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Declarations. The city boasts avant-garde architecture, a futuristic Arts and Sciences City and many creative events such as the Goyas film awards or the Michelin food gala. Its tourism sector employs over 30,000 professionals and it has been developing its innovative practices, making it a strong candidate for the European Capital of Smart Tourism.

Valencia is working to measure and certify the carbon footprint of its tourism activity. They are also the first European City to receive a double ITU (UN) and ISO certification for the Sustainable Development of Cities. They work closely with PREDIF (State Representative Platform of People with Physical Disability), and 52 of Valencia’s tourist entities and companies meet the requirements of PREDIF’s inclusive tourism programme. Accessible tours are widely available for those with reduced mobility, as well as in several languages. Information offices offer braille translations and pictograms, as well as the 24/7 interactive InfoTourist platform and the Visualfy system: an AI system that sends visual notifications to users’ devices. The city is well-connected by over 164km of cycle lanes, high-speed trains, motorways and its port which all have features for passengers requiring additional assistance. Valencia aims to become carbon neutral by 2030 and currently has several Sustainable Action Plans in place which include measures to reduce CO2 emissions, encourage electric vehicle usage, improve energy efficiency, promote sustainable food options and note impacts on cultural heritage.

Valencia is integrating several smart practices and collecting information in order to develop and enhance the city’s tourist experience. It has seamlessly implemented digital resources to amplify the exploration of its history and traditions and continues to strive for sustainability and protect its natural environment. Valencia’s economy benefits from an estimated €3,600 million thanks to the tourism industry and its new strategies will only increase this. Its support for digitalising tourism small and medium enterprises has also proved fruitful: in 2019 Valencia’s online tourism shop had a turnover of €4.5 million.

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