Dublin Leads Europe in Establishing ‘Smarter’ Tourism Model

Dublin Leads Europe in Establishing ‘Smarter’ Tourism Model

Dublin is leading the way in establishing a new model for tourism development which values locals and the environment alongside the economy. This model has been recognised by the European Commission who awarded Dublin the 2024 European Capital of Smart Tourism.

The European Capital of Smart Tourism award recognises destinations that are leading the way in the development of sustainable tourism. In the tourism industry it is the highest award a destination can receive. Dublin emerged as the 2024 winner from 30 candidates spanning 17 countries.

Dublin’s Smart Tourism Journey

Tourism is extremely important to Dublin’s economy supporting over 68,000 jobs in the capital. In 2019 (pre-pandemic), the city welcomed 8.6 million visitors (77% overseas) bringing €2.6 billion in tourist spend. On average, international visitors to Dublin spend €333 per person and domestic visitors spend €168 each. Dublin is also an extremely important gateway for the country with over 30 million air arrivals annually, representing two thirds of flights to the island. In addition, Dublin also has two ports with up to 11 sailings per day.

In 2019 Dublin, through a partnership between Dublin City Council, Fáilte Ireland and Dublin City Council Culture Company, began to look beyond the
economic impact of tourism at a new tourism model known as smart tourism. This model capitalises on Dublin’s unique expertise in technology and tourism and has helped usher in a new way of thinking about tourism focusing on digitisation, sustainability, culture and accessibility.

Following feedback from the 2021 judging panel, when Dublin lost out on the award, Dublin City Council set up a new Dublin City Council Tourism Unit to develop a strategic approach to sustainable tourism in the city. This Unit, began work on embedding the smarter tourism model into its strategic tourism vision for the city. Using best practice examples from across Europe as well as input from citizens, stakeholders and experts the resulting Dublin City Council Tourism Strategy 2023-2028 was an outlier in its recognition of the importance of locals and the environment within the tourism industry in Dublin.

What Separated Dublin from Europe’s Best Destinations?

“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. Over the past year, this city has actively engaged people in decision-making, creating a destination that resonates with its people and embraces innovation at the same time. The city’s networking efforts with previous winners reflect a dedication to collaboration, leadership and innovation, and a beating European heart.”

European Commission Judging Panel

Dublin was evaluated across four criteria including Sustainability, Accessibility, Digitalisation and Cultural Heritage and Creativity.


As well as being home to a UNESCO Bay Biosphere and Europe’s largest city park, Dublin embedded the UN Sustainable Development Goals within its Tourism Strategy and adopted the UNWTO definition of sustainable tourism. Furthermore, Dublin is the only Irish city to have signed up to the Glasgow Declaration on Sustainable Tourism Development and pledged to undertake a recognised destination certification process. Under social sustainability the judges were impressed with Dublin’s engagement with locals using the Your Dublin Your Voice survey panel to gauge domestic sentiment. This resulted in DearDublin.com which will be launched as part of the European Capital programme.


Dublin has also been striving to make the city more accessible for both its locals and visitors. Dublin’s pledge to become the world’s first autism friendly city, an initiative led by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, was central to its winning bid. This will help make the city more accessible and welcoming to people with autism by 2026.

“In a vibrant and dynamic city known for its rich history and cultural heritage, we envision a Dublin that not only recognises, but actively nurtures the unique abilities and talents of its residents and visitors with Autism.”

Lord Mayor of Dublin


Dublin has been blending its expertise in technology and tourism and creating leading examples of digitalisation in tourism across the EU. One such example is the new Dublin Discovery Trails app which uses gaming software and augmented reality to help bring the history and heritage of the city to life. Dublin has also been one of the first destinations to use smart city kiosks to help improve the navigation and orientation of its citizens and visitors across the city.

Cultural Heritage and Creativity

Within the Cultural Heritage and Creativity category Dublin excelled as one of the only European cities to have developed a dedicated Culture Company. The Dublin City Council Culture Company is responsible for cultural advocacy and programming across the city and also manages many important heritage buildings such as the award winning 14 Henrietta Street. Dublin was also recognised for its hosting of the UCLG World Culture Congress in 2023 as a statement of the cities commitment to cultural advocacy.

Dublin as the European Capital of Smart Tourism

The focus for Dublin City Council and its partners is now on delivering a strong programme of events, workshops, partnerships and engagements across 2024 to solidify its status as the Smart Tourism Capital. This has already kicked off with the lighting up of the Samuel Beckett Bridge with the European flag as a symbol of the designations theme – European Collaboration. The official ceremony for the handing over of the title will be held in March and Dublin will also be represented at international events such as ITB Berlin. Dublin recently announced a partnership with OpenAI to focus on the application of artificial intelligence in tourism. The upcoming year will likely see other large-scale collaborations.

Head of the Dublin City Tourism Unit

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