Malaga has just won the award for European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020. The city was chosen along with Gothenburg in Sweden to fly the flag for smart tourism next year. Malaga beat 33 other cities to win the accolade and was the only Spanish city in the running.
What is European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020?
The award given to 2 cities in the EU every year has 4 categories: accessibility, sustainability, digitalisation and cultural heritage and creativity:
- Accessibility is obviously about being barrier-free, but also includes the provision of multi-lingual services to the tourist. These are preferably digital and available online.
- Sustainability includes environmentally friendly tourism and puts the emphasis on reducing seasonality. As a result, the destination attracts tourists all year round and not just in high season. This category also looks at how the city includes locals in tourism.
- Digitalisation forms a core part of the European Capital of Smart Tourism awards and considers how a city offers a fully digital experience for the tourist as well as including local businesses.
- Cultural heritage and creativity looks at the way in which a city protects its cultural heritage, old and new, and capitalises on it to promote tourism.
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Malaga competed with 34 other EU cities for title of European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020, although only 10 made it to the shortlist. They included capital cities such as Bratislava and Ljubljana as well as the big cities of Nice and Turin.
Malaga ticked all 4 boxes for award. In the accessibility category, which Malaga won in the 2019 awards, the city has a fully-adapted bus network, vast pedestrian spaces including the refurbished Alameda Principal and 50% of Malaga taxis are adapted.
In terms of sustainability, Malaga performs well throughout the year. The summer and Christmas still make up the highest seasons, but during 2018 and this year, hotels in Malaga have seen excellent occupancy rates every month.
Digitalisation forms an essential part of the tourism experience in Malaga too and the city has a high-profile digital sector. This includes the Polo Digital at the Tabacalera and the Andalusian Technological Park (PTA).
But it’s perhaps in the last category, cultural heritage and creativity, that Malaga excels. Over the last 15 years, the city has gone from “just to airport” to the “City of Museums” with well over 30 to visit. Museums such as the Picasso Museum and Pompidou Centre have become icons of art.
Taking the baton from Helsinki and Lyon, Malaga begins next year as European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020. Expect to read plenty more about Malaga as a smart destination over the next 14 months.