BRUSSELS – A city in southern Spain was awarded on Wednesday a coveted tourism prize for the European Commission’s European Tourism Day after competing against 38 cities across 19 European Union member states.
According to the jury of this initiative focused on strengthening tourism-generated innovative development in EU cities and environs, Malaga won the 1st European Tourism Day Accessibility Tourism Award for its commitment to breaking down barriers, both physical and cognitive, within its touristic strategy.
“We always thought if we had an accessible city, well-connected inside and out for its residents, it would mean we have a very attractive city for tourism,” said Maria del Mar Martin, Malaga’s tourism and promotion councilor, when accepting the award in Brussels.
Martin added the city’s strategy was urban and focused on developing an international projection as an attractive destination, not only for holidays but to live, work and invest in.
The councilor explained that this strategy sought the total accessibility of Malaga’s beachfront and a substantial pedestrianization not only in its urban center but other districts, compounded by good access to public transport.
Martin also mentioned the potential effects of the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU, stressing Malaga’s potential as a cultural and urban destination.
“In 2019, we hope the economic impact of our British friends will exceed 350 million euros,” she said. “The number of Britons visiting the city continues to rise.”
“We are going to create a different Malaga, complementary to sun, beaches, and golf but focused on cultural tourism,” Martin underscored.
The EC also selected Helsinki, Finland and Lyon, France as top winners of the first edition of the EU’s 2019 European Capital of Smart Tourism competition.
Three more cities won other specific categories: Sustainability (Ljubljana, Slovenia), Digitalization (Copenhagen, Denmark) and Cultural Heritage and Creativity (Linz, Austria).