The first awards ceremony of the European Cities Marketing (ECM) network took place this week in Athens, in the framework of the ECM conference, with the cities of York and Gothenburg landing the main prizes. Sweden’s Gothenburg emerged as the «European City Tourism Destination of the Year», while York in the UK won the «European City Tourism Organization of the Year» award. The ceremony at Ethnikos Cine Kerameikos on Wednesday evening was attended by representatives from leading tourism corporations in Europe, including Frank Magee, president of ECM, and Paul Dubrule, co-founder of the Accord Group and member of the board of Maison de France. The event formed part of the annual ECM conference held every year in a different city along with «City Break Expo,» which this year was held at the Faliron Sports Hall from Monday to Wednesday this week. The conference, organized by the Tourism Development Ministry and the City of Athens, began on Wednesday and will conclude tomorrow. The ECM awards are intended to highlight and reward good performance and strengthen the image of European cities as tourism destinations, as well as to promote creativity and facilitate the exchange of experience among the members of the network. ECM is primarily a network for exchanging know-how among tourism promotion and development corporations. It is the most important city-marketing organization in Europe, with 130 members in 30 countries, including Paris, Berlin, Dublin, Lisbon, Madrid and Vienna. The network was created by the merger of European Cities Tourism and the European Federation of Conference Towns. City tourism is the most rapidly developing tourism sector in Europe. After the decline in the global tourism industry due to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001 and the SARS epidemic in 2002, city tourism soared across Europe. Growth in arrivals across the whole of Europe has remained low (4 percent annually) relative to other continents, given the saturation of the market since Europe is the top destination in terms of number of arrivals. Crucially, while sea-and-sun tourism has risen by 6.3 percent, city tourism has grown by 16.3 percent.