By John Ensor •
Published: 29 Nov 2023 • 13:54
Image of Dublin.
Credit: Madrugada Verde/Shutterstock.com
Dublin has just been crowned the European Capital of Smart Tourism for 2024, proving that innovation can be the key to a city’s success.
The European Commission made this announcement on Tuesday, November 28 in Brussels. The panel applauded Dublin for integrating Europe’s finest Smart Tourism practices into its first five-year tourism plan, focusing heavily on innovation, writes Dublin Live.
Richard Shakespeare, Chief Executive of Dublin City Council expressed his joy, and stated that the city was ‘delighted’ to have clinched the top spot. ‘This designation is a recognition of our commitment to deliver a greener, more accessible, inclusive, and innovative Dublin, for both our visitors and locals.’
Dublin’s Smart Tourism initiative, launched in 2019, has been a platform for sharing and learning from Europe’s leading cities, embedding these practices into Dublin’s new Tourism Strategy for 2023. Shakespeare views this award as a stepping stone to further innovate Dublin’s tourism.
The European Commission highlighted unique attractions such as 14 Henrietta Street, ‘ a museum narrating architectural and social history.’ Another attraction is EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum. Described as ‘a state-of-the-art attraction offering an interactive journey through Irish history.’
Along with digital advances such as the Dublin Discovery Trails App, such innovations have set Dublin apart from its competitors.
The city’s commitment to sustainability is also noteworthy, exemplified by being the first Irish city to sign the Glasgow Declaration on Sustainable Tourism. The ambition to become the world’s first autism-friendly city by 2026 further impressed the judges.
Dublin is dedicated to prioritizing universal accessibility as a key component of its Tourism Strategy. By 2028, the city aims to integrate accessibility into every project and activity.
Leading this initiative, Dublin Airport has emerged as a frontrunner in fostering an inclusive travel environment. It has established a Disability Users Group, collaborating with various organizations to ensure its strategies meet the diverse needs of people with disabilities.
The airport has introduced ‘important flyer wristbands and lanyards’, which allow passengers requiring additional assistance to easily identify themselves.
Furthermore, Dublin Airport has developed a sensory room designed to provide a calm space away from the busy airport atmosphere, catering especially to individuals with special needs or dementia.
The airport’s commitment to accessibility also includes a relief area for assistance dogs, induction loop systems for those with hearing impairments, and visual guides to help passengers with autism navigate their journey through the airport.
With over 340,000 such engagements in 2019 alone, Dublin Airport continues to focus on improving accessibility and enhancing the overall experience for all passengers.
The European Commission’s judging panel praised Dublin, stating, ‘This city immersed in a rich tapestry of history, is a city full of culture and creativity.
‘Now hailed for its commitment to sustainability and a strategic smart tourism vision and outstanding achievements, it has impressed the jury.’
They highlighted Dublin’s active engagement in inclusive decision-making, showcasing a city that resonates with its people while embracing innovation. The panel commended Dublin’s networking with previous award winners, underscoring its dedication to collaboration, leadership, innovation, and ‘a beating European heart.’
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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