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Photo credit: Aljoša Škaper, personal archive / Ljubljana Tourism photo library

On the 7th of August 2019, the European Commission announced the finalists of the 2020 European Capital of Smart Tourism competition. Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana is among the finalists. The European Capital of Smart Tourism initiative recognizes outstanding achievements by European cities as tourism destinations in four categories: sustainability, accessibility, digitalization as well as cultural heritage and creativity. This EU initiative aims to promote smart tourism in the EU, network and strengthen destinations, and facilitate the exchange of best practices. This year, two cities will be selected European Capitals of Smart Tourism 2020. In addition, four cities will receive European Smart Tourism Awards 2020 for their outstanding achievements in individual categories.

This is not the first time Ljubljana is included on the list for the award. Last year, Ljubljana received the 2019 European Smart Tourism Award in Sustainability, while Helsinki and Lyon won the 2019 European Capital of Smart Tourism title. The jury explained in 2019 that Slovenia’s capital won the recognition for its sustainability on behalf of the key measures and plans it implemented in sustainable development, accessibility, digitalization, and cultural heritage and creativity.

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Photo credit: Dunja Wedam/ Ljubljana Tourism photo library

In this year’s explanation of why Ljubljana was shortlisted, the European Commission notes that while the city is a small capital it is an increasingly important facilitator of smart ideas. Ljubljana has closed down its city centre for cars entirely, visitors can purchase the URBANA smart card, making it easy to choose among various environmentally friendly transport options. A special mention went to the adaptations that allow visitors with disabilities to explore the city, including the Ljubljana by Wheelchair app.

Additionally, the Commission mentioned how the city makes its services easier for visitors by providing them with access to information and digitalization. Additionally, Ljubljana Tourism’s active communications using various social media platforms was emphasized along the option for visitors to create their own travel itinerary in Ljubljana. Special notice went to two apps: the Nexto audio guide app which leads visitors through the city with a smart audio guide that engages users through features, such as puzzles, riddles and item collections via mobile scanning; and the Tap Water Ljubljana app that provides its users with information on where the closest water fountains are.

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Photo credit: Odprta kuhna / Ljubljana Tourism photo library

This year shortlisted cities besides Ljubljana are: Bratislava, Breda, Bremerhaven, Gothenburg, Karslruhe, Málaga, Nice, Ravenna, and Torino. The cities will be presented in Helsinki on the 8th of October 2019. After the presentations, the jury will among the shortlisted capitals select the two winners of the 2020 European Capital of Smart Tourism competition and the four additional awardees. The second recognition of Ljubljana in the competition adds to the collection of awards that make the destination particularly attractive also for the meetings industry.