The European Commission has launched two competitions to promote smart and sustainable tourism in the EU, network and strengthen destinations, and facilitate the exchange of best practices. The initiative is under the umbrella of Smart Tourism.
The European Capital of Smart Tourism recognizes outstanding achievements by European cities as tourism destinations in four categories: sustainability, accessibility, digitalization as well as cultural heritage and creativity.
The European Green Pioneer of Smart Tourism, successor of the European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) competition, rewards smaller destinations that have implemented successful strategies to boost sustainable tourism through green transition practices.
Deadline to submit applications is July 5, at 5:00 pm CET.
This is an excellent initiative by DGGrow to support the EU transition pathway for tourism.Alessandra Priante, Director Regional Department for Europe UNWTO
Smart Tourism is an EU initiative implemented by the European Commission. Currently it is financed under the COSME Program and it is a successor of the Preparatory Action proposed by the European Parliament. The initiative aims to:
- Promote the rich tourism offer of European countries and increase citizens’ sentiment of sharing local tourism-related values.
- Strengthen tourism-generated and innovative tourism development in the cities, their surroundings and their neighbor regions.
- Increase the attractiveness of European cities that are awarded the title and strengthen economic growth and job creation.
- Establish framework for the exchange of best practices between the cities and create opportunities for cooperation and new partnerships.
- Inform the travelers of the sustainable and outstanding tourism practices in destinations they are visiting.
- Encourage sustainable socio-economic development in tourism destinations across Europe.
Pafos is the 2023 European Capital of Smart Tourism. The capital of Cyprus in Roman times, Pafos is an all-year-round destination and one of the most diverse and historically rich areas on the island.
1. Transforming quantity into quality with innovation and creativity
Pafos is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Cyprus and it attracts most of the visitors coming to the island. The whole city is included in the UNESCO world heritage list and people can discover important places of interest, such as the UNESCO Archaeological Park of Kato Pafos, the Medieval Castle by the ancient harbour, the Old Town, among others.
This rich area attracts then over 550,000 international visitors with an average duration of stay of 8 days, has the capacity of 12,000 license tourist beds and it is estimated that the tourism industry within the city of Pafos employs around 14,000 people. The city is currently investing heavily in the region’s infrastructures, tourist products, services and experiences offered, tourism technology and environmental protection. Pafos has transformed from a traditional mass sun-and-sea tourism hotspot into a modern and innovative tourism destination.
2. Island water access worth protecting
Pafos has adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goals as they apply to tourism sustainability, this includes affordable and clean energy, industry innovation and infrastructure, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, climate action, and partnerships for the goals. As a coastal city, seaside tourism is important to Pafos.
Since the beginning of the Blue Flag program, a certification by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) for beaches, marinas, or sustainable boating tourism operators, Pafos has been granted Blue Flag Status for several beaches. For 2021, 6 beaches comply with a specific set of criteria relating to water quality, information provision, environmental education, safety, and environmental management. The city’s concern about water also extends to drinking water, and the Smart Water Management project was set up.
The main purpose for the Municipality is to achieve optimal use of available water resources, ensuring the quantity and quality of drinking water through the infrastructure of the water supply and distribution networks, while achieving significantly lower maintenance and operation costs. The project includes the supply, installation and operation of equipment and software, as well as services for the implementation of a smart and integrated Water Resources Management System. Water losses and unpriced water are expected to be reduced from 33% to 10-15%.
3. Where myth meets technology
Pafos is at the heart of the myth of Aphrodite, with the beach of her birthplace. The city then offers a new experience to visitors with the possibility to download the Myth of Aphrodite app for free, after the success of the pilot project using AR (Augmented Reality). Users will be able to scan relevant photos of Aphrodite in three different places on the beach, to enjoy Aphrodite in a real environment through their smart devices.
The scenes include the mythical goddess emerging from the foam of the sea, sitting on a rock, and reading a book on the beach. Users can then interact, and find information on the app, with locations and description. Culture lovers or explorers, all can download the app and enjoy it.
4. Pafos Aphrodite Festival – Opera in a UNESCO city
Since 1999, the Pafos Aphrodite Festival has taken place in the city in early September. It promotes the intangible heritage of opera and has been established as a cultural event of international recognition with high preconditions for artistic performances and administrative efficiency.
Every year, there is great interest from an international audience of holidaymakers and visitors, with 3-day performances, and it always goes sold-out. With the imposing Medieval Castle of Pafos and the sea as a backdrop, the event attracts sponsors, who support it. This event has been successfully attracting cultural tourism for 20 years.