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Best European Rail Tourism Campaign 2021

About the Award

With the EU designating 2021 as the European Year of Rail (EYR), the European Travel Commission and Eurail have launched a joint award competition to contribute to the objectives of the EYR, namely; promoting rail tourism among EU citizens, encouraging cross-sectoral dialogue between the rail and tourism sectors, and contributing to the European Green Deal.

The award will be given to marketing campaigns that aim to create synergies between the rail and tourism sectors, and to effectively promote train travel as a sustainable tourism model throughout the EU.

Participants in the award competition will be able to reap various benefits contributing to the exposure and development of their campaigns, such as:

  • Exposure on ETC’s and partners’ digital promotional channels
  • Corporate public relations and dissemination via ETC and Eurail channels
  • Expert market intelligence and insights on campaign planning and development
  • Winners will receive the title of ‘Best European Rail Tourism Campaign 2021’ as well as an accredited digital badge, certificate, and plaque


The awards will be split into three categories:

  1. New promotional initiatives EYR 2021
  2. Best completed rail tourism promotions
  3. Jury prize


The awards are open to NTOs, DMOs, rail organisations and other entities with significant operations in the European tourism sector. Applications from consortia are also welcomed. This award aims to incentivise new promotional campaigns during the EYR that encourage train travel for tourism. Therefore, applications will be open to campaigns which are in the planning or implementation phase during 2021  (any information disclosed in the application will be treated with utmost confidenitiality and will not shared with third parties).

Campaigns which have already been completed before 01/01/2021 will be considered for the second category.

Types of action

Campaigns and/or campaign proposals must aim at contributing to the objectives defined above, particularly in promoting European rail tourism.

In that regard, promotional campaigns must use the right messages, channels and tactics to engage effectively the target audience. The following actions are examples of possible promotional activities:

  • Content marketing
  • Video
  • Native advertising
  • Social media
  • Referral marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Programmatic display
  • Email marketing
  • Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)

Evaluation Criteria and Jury

Applications will be evaluated by an expert jury comprised of professionals from the tourism, rail and marketing sectors. The results of the jury were announced in an official award ceremony on February 2nd in Engelberg, Switzerland.

Discover more about the winners



  • Relevance. The campaign’s ability to contribute to at least one of the objectives of the award, namely supporting the Green Deal, promoting rail as a sustainable mode of transport, and promoting Europe as a distinct tourist destination.
  • Rail-travel at the core of the campaign. The ability to tie-in the rail experience in an organic and consistent way throughout the campaign, as opposed to highlighting the train as just a way to go from A to B.
  • Clarity of the campaign (proposal) description. The level of coherence, appropriateness and practicality of the (proposed) activities and methodology. The size and type of target audience that the campaign will engage
  • Creativity and innovation of the campaign approach. The extent to which the proposal demonstrates an innovative and creative approach
  • Measurable outputs. The extent to which the campaign (proposal) description contains well-defined and verifiable indicators (KPIs) for project outputs and estimated impacts on target groups

How to apply

Applications for Best European Rail Tourism Campaign 2021‪ are now closed.



Elke Dens

Elke Dens was one of the driving forces to lead VisitFlanders into ‘Travel to tomorrow’, a vision on tourism that is based on regeneration. As a former chairwoman of the Marketing Group of ETC, she aligned the marketing directors from 28 countries in Europe around one and the same brand and strategy with a focus on a long term sustainable added value. After COVID’19 she decided to take a few years of leave from the government, and help other destinations as an independent freelance expert. As a rewarded place marketer, she has been assigned as expert of the COVID’19 tourism recovery program of the UN. She also does a lot of voluntary work, like helping FairBnB to launch in Europe. Recently she co-founded The Hive for place regenerators and she is a proud board member of two international NGO’s – The Travel Foundation and the Impact Travel Alliance.

Mark Smith

Mark Smith is a career railwayman who joined British Rail in 1987. He was the Station Manager at London Charing Cross in the early 1990s and later Customer Relations Manager for two privatised train companies. He has also worked for the UK’s Department for Transport as head of their UK rail fares and ticketing regulation team. In 2001, Mark set up a website called The Man in Seat 61, to help travellers plan and book train travel around Europe and worldwide. This became his full time job in 2007, and before the pandemic it received up to 1 million visitors each month.

Susanne Kries and Nicky Gardner

Susanne Kries and Nicky Gardner are the directors of hidden europe, a Berlin-based publisher and consultancy company.  Nicky and Susanne established hidden europe magazine in 2005, and they still edit each issue. They are the authors of Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide, one of the best-selling English-language guidebooks. The 17th edition of the book will be published in spring 2022. Apart from their writing and publishing interests, Susanne and Nicky maintain a rich portfolio of consultancy work with a focus on slow travel, sustainable tourism and European rail fares and ticketing. Their client-list ranges from small entrepreneurial start-ups to major legacy operators. For more on their publishing work see and