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Gothenburg – the European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020

The European Capital of Smart Tourism is a competition created by the European Commission to reward cities setting examples in smart, innovative and inclusive tourism solutions. Gothenburg was chosen, together with Málaga, as a winner for 2020. The cities appointed as the capital must show strong performance in four categories: accessibility, sustainability, digitalisation and cultural heritage/creativity. In its competition entry, Gothenburg highlighted strengths in all four categories and underlined the ambition to share knowledge and experiences with other destinations.

In addition to the main designation, Gothenburg also received a prize in the sustainability category.

Gothenburg application for European Capital of Smart Tourism

From smart to smarter

Gothenburg is not a large city, not even a capital. Despite this, or perhaps thanks to this, we have developed our own way of driving innovation and change through collaboration. Smaller cities must work hard and become experts in creating effective partnerships. This has been Gothenburg’s strategy for two decades now. And with a top position in the Global Destination Sustainability Index (four five years in a row!) and an award for Best Sustainable City Stay 2021 by Lonely Planet, we dare to say that we have been successful.

The tourism industry needs to develop new, sustainable ways. This is especially important after the tough 2020 and 2021 with less tourism and less business opportunities. This is an opportunity to go from smart to smarter.

Gothenburg programme

The covid-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on the hospitality industry and the primary focus for most destinations has been recovery initiatives.  As a result of the pandemic, the planned Gothenburg programme had to be redesigned completely and many of the planned activities were performed digitally. This resulted in broader target groups and in a way a more accessible programme.

The Gothenburg programme comprised a total of 42 different activities during the year, including many national and international congresses and conferences, pod productions, digital workshops, and round table discussions.

Gothenburg initiated and developed the digital platform 101 Sustainable Ideas as a tool where you can explore ideas from all over the world, share inspiration and nominate new ideas.

One of the Gothenburg initiatives was the development of the Destination Data Platform focusing on providing open data. Gothenburg has been focusing on accelerating the digitalization development and aims to become more data-driven, both as a DMO and as a destination.

In cooperation with Malaga and with the universities in Gothenburg and Malaga we conducted Smart Tourism classes to master students, tomorrows tourism industry leaders.

Gothenburg also arranged a digital Smart Tourism conference and invited all finalists from the European Capital of Smart Tourism competition 2019 and 2020.

Raising awareness

We believe that moving further and going smarter is best done together. Sharing and collaborating is in our DNA. Therefore, we will continue to raise the smart tourism torch and open the dialogue wherever we participate. The best channels, however, will be the ones of our partners from the tourism industry.

Through the title, Göteborg & Co have had the opportunity to profile and position Gothenburg as a smart and sustainable destination in an international context. And to be able to promote sustainable growth on a national and European level. 

News about Gothenburg and the Capital of Smart Tourism 2020

Is Smart Tourism the future?
Join live webinar with the 2020 European Capitals of Smart Tourism Gothenburg and Malaga.


Join us on Friday 28 May at 10:00 CET in a digital webinar about the future of tourism and how smart and innovative initiatives can help to kick-start the recovery of the tourism ecosystem. A round table discussion on “How can Smart Tourism support the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic?” will shed more light onto the topic. Register here to receive the invitation. 

Gothenburg: 2020 European Capital of Smart Tourism and 2020 European Smart Tourism Award in Sustainability

Speaker: Katarina Thorstenson, Sustainability strategist, Göteborg & Co.
Topic: What made Gothenburg stand out to become 2020 European Capital of Smart Tourism? Katarina will share insights on how the city put forward a collaborative working model to help improve experiences for both citizens and tourists.

Málaga: 2020 European Capital of Smart Tourism and 2019 European Smart Tourism Award in Accessibility

Speaker: Marc Sanderson, International Economic Development Director, City of Málaga.
Topic: Málaga has consolidated its position as an innovative and creative city and has become a smart tourism destination. The coastal city leads the way in involving the local community and working to sow the seeds of smart tourism on all levels.

Smart Gothenburg presented in National Geographic


Gothenburg and Malaga share the title European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020. In the latest edition of National Geographic, best practices from both cities are presented.

Reiving Urban Tourism – A roundtable with the 2020 European Capitals of Smart Tourism


On 4 December 2020, representatives of Gothenburg and Málaga, 2020 European Capitals of Smart Tourism, participated in a roundtable discussion on the theme of “Reviving Urban Tourism“. The online event was organised by the Digital Tourism Think Tank (DTTT) as part of the X Festival. Marc Sanderson, Director of International Economic Development at the City of Málaga and Andrea Jovell, Marketing and Communications Manager at Göteborg & Co discussed with other panelists, the skills and strategies that are needed to become a driving force in a sustainable recovery, the future of the city break market and the impact of global tourism and business travel. Giacomo Costantini, Deputy Mayor of Ravenna and Maria Grazia Marini, manager of the tourism service of the Municipality of Ravenna, a city shortlisted in the 2020 European Capital of Smart Tourism competition, participated in the discussion too. More information about the event can be found here.

Gothenburg participates at Nordic Place Branding Conference 2020


The Nordic Place Branding Conference is this year arranged in a digital format with Oslo as host city. Katarina Thorstensson, Smart Tourism & Sustainability Strategist at Göteborg & Co, participates as speaker. She presents how private and public collaboration have created a sustainable city and how other cities, big or small, can excel at smart tourism.

Read more about the programme here.

Gothenburg participates at Ravenna Smart Tourism conference


At the end of November, Ravenna (Italy) held the international digital conference Smart Tourism and the Global Challenge.

Gothenburg, Malaga and Helsinki is invited to share experiences regarding the role as European Capital of Smart Tourism. Helena Lindqvist, Project manager at Göteborg & Co for the Gothenburg programme as European Capital of Smart Toruism participates as speaker.

Gothenburg hosts international digital Smart Tourism conference


Gothenburg invited 18 European destinations and 30 Swedish Destination Management Organisations to a digital conference on the subject Smart Tourism. The theme of the conference was How Smart Tourism strategies can support the tourism and hospitality industry forward.

Take part of the conference here.

Göteborg & Co launches website for a more sustainable tourism

2020-11-12 lists sustainable, creative and innovative ideas in the tourism industry. The aim is to raise awareness of even more ideas, the number of initiatives is not static, and anyone can nominate an idea for the catalogue.

The website is a part of the daily work with smart tourism in Gothenburg and in raising awareness of smart initiatives and destinations.

– Being the European Capital of Smart Tourism is about sharing your own work with other destinations, but also to highlight and inspire by giving examples of successful initiatives leading to a change. The 101 Sustainable Ideas is a great platform to do so, says Helena Lindqvist, Project Manager European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020.


Gothenburg participation at Helsinki Tourism Conference


Helsinki and Lyon were the European Capitals of Smart Tourism 2019.
On October 26, Helsinki will host the Helsinki Tourism Conference with approximately 1000 delegats. 200 of them will meet live in Helsinki. Katarina Thorstensson, Smart Tourism & Sustainability Strategist at Göteborg & Co, participates as speaker. Gothenburg will share experiences from being European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020 and also regarding the focus on sustainability.

Gothenburg hosts digital Smart Tourism conference on November 20


Gothenburg will host a digital Smart Tourism conference on November 20. Representatives from 18 European destinations with Smart Tourism focus will be invited. The topic will be: How Smart Tourism strategy can support the visiting industry forward.

Gothenburg participation at European Tourism Convention


The European Commission was organising the European Tourism Convention on 12th October 2020. The Convention was launching a dialogue on sustainable recovery and the strategic orientations for the tourism of tomorrow and guided future work and cooperation on tourism.
The European Tourism Convention plenary session focused at the following areas:
– Safe and Seamless Tourism Experience
– Greener Holidays and
– Tourism Powered by Data

Gothenburg was represented in the plenary session by Katarina Thorstensson, Smart Tourism & Sustainability Strategist at Göteborg & Co and by Niclas Mårtensson, CEO at Stena Line.  

Follow the summary from the pleanry session here


Gothenburg shares the European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020 award with Malaga. The digital conference Greencities – Forum of Urban Intelligence and Sustainability is held in Malaga, Spain this week, Katarina Thorstensson, Smart Tourism & Sustainability Strategist at Göteborg & Co, participates in a digital panel debate with the theme Smart Tourist Destinations – how to address it after covid-19.

Gothenburg invited to Estonian Tourism Conference


Gohenburg was invited to participate at the Estonian Tourism Conference organized by Visit Estonia and Estonian National Tourist Board on September 29. A digital conference for actors within the visiting industri in Estonia.

Katarina Thorstensson, Smart Tourism & Sustainability Strategist at Göteborg & Co, shared experiences from Gothenburg´s journey towards becomming one of the world´s most sustainable destinations and also the European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020.

Travel Massive digital live event – How can smart tourism support the recovery from the covid-19 pandemic?


How can smart tourism support the recovery from the covid-19 pandemic? Learn from EU award-winning smart tourism projects from the cities of Gothenburg and Málaga – European Capitals of Smart Tourism for 2020 at the digital Travel Massive LIVE Event on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 15:00 to 16:00 PM.

Katarina Thorstensson, Smart Tourism- and Sustainability Strategist, Göteborg & Co and Marc Sanderson, Director of International Economic Development, City of Málaga

Take part of the Travel Massive Live Event here

Welcome to the Tourism Industry’s Knowledge Hub where open data creates new insights and innovation!


Göteborg & Co are now investing in developing a concept and prototype of a destination data platform that will form the basis for a long-term effort to become one of Europe’s leading knowledge hub in the hospitality industry.

The concept focuses on four central areas, where open data is at the centre.

  • Gathers data from the tourism industry’s most important data sources in transport, housing and activities
  • Binds together, enriches and creates insights
  • Analyzes, follows up and improves the collection and enrichment process
  • Packages and distributes open data

The destination data platform is intended to strengthen the ability for external monitoring, analysis and statistics by enabling the collection, enrichment (interconnection), analysis, and making data available to the operators of the tourism industry.

The goal is to provide initial insights and improved decision support in the destination development work at Göteborg & Co and with participating partners. In a first step towards the destination data platform, Göteborg & Co has decided to work together HiQ in Gothenburg.

The need for digitalisation in the tourism industry


The ongoing crisis accelerates the need for digitalisation in the tourism industry and many new initiatives are underway.

In June, a digital Think Tank was implemented by Göteborg & Co. Both representatives from the tourism industry in West Sweden and the IT industry participated.

The Think Tank focused on how digitalisation and new technology can contribute to the development of the tourism industry and how we plan and act in a new normal after the crisis. Participants shared their thoughts on opportunities and challenges with the digitalisation and the implementation of new technology.

The economic association GREAT facilitated the Think Tank. This initiative is the first in a series of planned workshops during the year.

Image: The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra’s music camp Side by Side, which in 2020 was carried out digitally with over 700 participants from 30 countries.

How can Smart Tourism be relevant to a tourism industry in crisis?


The hospitality industry, like many other industries, has been severely affected by covid-19. Many countries have closed their borders, cities have been closed down for extended periods and strict restrictions apply to residents. Larger meetings and events are canceled or postponed. It is not yet possible to say what the long-term consequences are for the hospitality industry.

The program for the year as the European Capital of Smart Tourism is now being reviewed as many of the planned activities are postponed or canceled. We are now adjusting to an even more digital focus.
We are also sharing knowledge and experience in the European network for European Capital of Smart Tourism on a weekly basis.

Each week, 10 European destinations meet in digital meetings to discuss covid-19’s impact and effects, as well as share initiatives. Destinations participating are Málaga, Breda, Ljubljana, Karlsruhe, Helsinki, Lyon and Linz.

Currently, the focus lies on how we can set and prepare our destinations for the new normal after covid-19. For the moment, smart tourism is all about being a smart destination in times of crisis and still being able to look forward and focus on a long-term development.

Smart Tourism measures helping Gothenburg and Malaga becomming the 2020 capitals


Gothenburg and Málagaare the 2020 European Capitals of Smart Tourism. Both cities won for their overall commitment to smart tourism and for their achievements across all four competition categories (Accessibility, Sustainability, Digitalisation and Cultural Heritage & Creativity). Discover some of the smart tourism measures in both cities in the recent Travel Massive blog.

Best practice of Smart Tourism


The updated Compendium of Best Practices, the go-to guide to smart tourism in the EU, is now available online. The Compendium of Best Practices is a selection of the most innovative projects, ideas and initiatives, derived from applications submitted to the 2019 and 2020 European Capital of Smart Tourism competitions. The report showcases a selection of 145 best practices by cities as tourism destinations in: Accessibility, Sustainability, Digitalisation, Cultural heritage and creativity and solely presents and relies on the data that the cities submitted in their applications.

The Compendium aims to raise awareness about smart tourism tools, initiatives and projects, sharing the best practices in tourism implemented by cities and strengthening peer-to-peer learning and innovative development of tourism in the EU.

Read the report and get inspired here:

European Capital of Smart Tourism statue


When Gothenburg was awarded the European Capital of Smart Tourism by the European Commission, the city also received a statue as part of the prize. This statue has now been given a place of honour at the square Kungsportsplatsen, just outside Gothenburg Visitor Centre.

Today, the inauguration took place with Anneli Rhedin, Lord Mayor of Gothenburg and Peter Grönberg, CEO of Göteborg & Co.

Gothenburg starts the year as the 2020 European Capital of Smart Tourism


Representatives of the city, academia and the business community of Gothenburg gathered on February 7 2020 for a launching event with regards to Gothenburg’s win as the 2020 European Capital of Smart Tourism. The aim was to bring together as many people as possible to help make this year an engine of development for the destination.

– Gothenburg has been given a fantastic opportunity to drive the sustainable development of smart tourism cities in Europe. We intend to carry the title proudly with our stakeholders and showcase our strengths as a destination, says Peter Grönberg, CEO of Göteborg & Co.

Read more about the kick-off event.

Gothenburg present at FITUR Madrid 2020


The 2020 European Capitals of Smart Tourism, Gothenburg and Málaga, together with the other 2020 European Smart Tourism Awards winners Breda, Ljubljana and Karlsruhe were present in this year’s FITUR travel trade fair in Madrid. Representatives of the cities participated in the FITUR Know-How event Developing Smart Tourism Destinations on January 23 2020. It was an interesting discussion, in which the cities explained how they each address the current challenges in the tourism sector and how they became smart tourism destinations.
Watch the recorded event “Developing Smart Tourism Destinations” here.

The public had the opportunity to learn about the European Capital of Smart Tourism initiative also at the stand – getting an insight into how the EU is supporting cities in promoting their good practices and working together on smart tourism.

See more photos from FITUR Madrid 2020.

Gothenburg kicks off the year as 2020 European Capital of Smart Tourism


A kick-off meeting with the participation of Gothenburg’s representatives, European Commission tourism policy officers and the European Capital of Smart Tourism Secretariat took place in Gothenburg, one of the 2020 European Capitals of Smart Tourism.

Gothenburg was represented by Katarina Torstensson, Smart Tourism & Sustainability Strategist; Helena Lindqvist, Project Manager Gothenburg European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020; Lars Isacson, Manager Research & Development and Jonas Norrman, Smart Cities Expert.

Facts about the award

The European Commission awards the title of “European Capital of Smart Tourism” to two European cities at a time. The winning cities must stand out from the competition by developing tourism in smart, innovative and inclusive ways. Helsinki and Lyon held the title in 2019, and Gothenburg and Málaga are the smart capitals of 2020.

The competition is open to cities in the EU with a population of over 100,000. In EU countries that do not have such large cities, the largest city may enter.

By rewarding smart destinations, the EU aims to promote innovative, inclusive and multicultural tourism development. It also aims to highlight how tourism can contribute to sustainable development.

Read more:

Please, do not hesitate to contact us to discuss how your organization can take part of the collaboration:
Helena Lindqvist, Project Manager European Capital of Smart Tourism
Phone: +46 725-41 84 50