Dublin and Grosseto emerge as 2024 European Capitals

James

Dublin liffey, tags: 2024 european - CC BY-SA

Dublin and Grosseto have earned top spots as the 2024 European Capital and Green Pioneer of Smart Tourism. They talk about what this means and why it matters on a recent ‘Smart gets you further’ podcast.

Misa Labarile, a Policy Officer at the European Commission, leads a podcast that dives into smart tourism in Europe. It covers critical topics like accessibility, sustainability, digital transitions, and the role of cultural heritage and creativity, featuring insights from tourism experts.

Dublin embracing smart tourism

Almost half a decade ago, Dublin started to shift towards smart tourism. This change was triggered by the Covid pandemic, which highlighted the need to rethink tourism strategies.

In 2022, Dublin made the shortlist for the title of European Capital of Smart Tourism, thanks to its skills in digital technology. Despite not winning that year, the city took it as a chance to spot areas for improvement and focused on becoming a smarter tourist destination. Their hard work paid off, and in 2024, Dublin took home the title.

According to Barry Rogers, the Head of Dublin City Tourism Unit, it’s difficult to discuss changes needed at a destination level without practical examples, and praises the Smart Tourism initiative for providing such examples from various destinations.

Dublin has taken steps to be more environmentally friendly in its tourism approach. The city was the first in Ireland to join the Glasgow Declaration on Sustainable Tourism, a commitment to preserving the environment. Instead of focusing on international tourists, Dublin is now more focused on local tourism. This both provides a better experience for Dublin residents and reduces carbon emissions from tourism.

Dublin has made travel easier in more ways than one. Not only has it improved its physical facilities for travelers, but it’s also broadening the reach of accessibility. It particularly shines in the digital arena of smart tourism. With the new Dublin Discovery Trails app, both tourists and locals can uncover hidden gems in less explored areas.

Additionally, Dublin distinguishes itself as one of the few European cities with a unique Culture Company. It breathes innovative life into the cultural experiences offered in the city.

In 2024, as Dublin strives to create the future of smart tourism, collaboration with other cities will continue unabated. Barry candidly shares the city’s anticipation to host and join hands with other fantastic destinations that have been pivotal to the Smart Tourism initiative over the past five years.

He articulates the city’s wish to discard the traditional competitiveness that often exists between destinations. Instead, Dublin embraces a new perspective, welcoming perceived competitors to partake in collaborative efforts towards smart tourism.

Pioneering slow tourism in Tuscany

Grosseto, a quaint town in Tuscany, Italy, is no stranger to green tourism. Known for its organic farms and wineries, Grosseto has always been a magnet for travelers. The city’s unique food and wine tours not only provide an extraordinary experience for tourists but also involve locals and create tourism jobs.

Since 1975, Grosseto has been working towards a more sustainable model of tourism, an important part of which is the protection and preservation of its nature and landscape. This approach is reflected in the promotion of slow tourism in the area. Instead of trains or cars, the Grosseto area can be explored on newly improved cycle paths and the Urban Trekking project.

Valentina Mecacci, of the Grosseto Municipal Tourism Office, talks about the philosophy behind this focus on slow tourism, highlighting that when you travel by plane or train, many important details can be lost. According to her, an immersive experience of the territory is what is most essential to their tourism efforts.

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