The Greek capital Athens has been proclaimed the European Capital of Innovation for 2018. In a special event organized in Lisbon, the Greek capital was declared the winner of the European Commission iCapital Awards.
“The prize awarded Athens for its ability to harness innovation in order to improve the lives of its citizens,” the EC said in a statement.
In an exclusive statement to state news agency amna, Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis said “We have shown that things can be done in a different way, through partnerships with the participation of civil society and with a plan for the city.”
He added that “this prize belongs to everyone, especially to those citizens of Athens who worked with the municipality to overcome the crisis and since the prize winner is given to the capital the award belongs to the whole of Greece.”
Other candidates were Aarhus, Antwerp, Bristol, Gothenburg, Hamburg, Leuven, Lisbon, Madrid, Toulouse, Umeå, Vienna.
Last week the City of Athens announced the partnership “This is Athens & Partners.”
The City of Athens, the Association of Greek Touristic Enterprises (SETE), Aegean Airlines and the Athens International Airport join forces to work with the aim to turn Athens into Top European Destination.
With a thorough 3-year development plan worth 15 million euros, the project aims to coordinate and implement actions both for the development and the upgrade of the city as a top destination and effective promotion on major touristic markets abroad.
The development plan has three pillars:
1. Destination Development with investments for the upgrading of the public space and the design of products and services for the international and domestic public. Through the POLY² pilot project, which motivates young entrepreneurs to reopen closed stores, 22 interventions are already underway: upgrading the public space and the city’s image by “greening” buildings, installing urban equipment and lighting applications in many neighborhoods of the Greek capital, while 18 closed shops are being renovated and opened in symbolic parts of the city.
2. Destination Marketing with the promotion of the Greek capital and digital campaigns to make the city a destination for tourists all over the year. The campaigns to start as of spring 2019 are expected to reach 120 million citizens abroad and bring at least 200,000 new visitors to Athens. This means €100 million revenues for the local economy and 5,000 direct or indirect new jobs.
3. Destination Management to create a unique visitor experience. The actions will focus on welcoming visitors to Athens with the operation of two points of information (info points) throughout the year, through which the visitor can get the right information about the city and its experiences. At the same time, the city’s volunteer network that has already been set up so that volunteers will welcome visitors offering free thematic tours in the city.