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At the World Travel Awards 2016  ceremony held Sunday 4 September in Sardinia, Lyon came away with the title of “Europe’s Leading City Break Destination”.  A prestigious honor for the city, which topped a number of serious competitors including Paris, London, Berlin, Athens, Rome, Dublin and Lisbon.

Lyon offers what people are looking for in urban tourism today, reflecting the country’s lifestyle in a compact city that you can walk across or bike through using a Vélo’v [editor’s note: Lyon’s free-access bicycle rental service]”, enthused François Gaillard, Managing Director of ONLYLYON Tourisme. “Lyon has become an attractive city at all levels, for students, businesspeople and companies alike. If a city wants to appeal to tourists, it has to appeal to everyone.”

This trophy, a true “Oscar’s of tourism”, rewards the city’s efforts in recent years to boost its appeal among tourists.

As the former world capital of silk, Lyon has always been a leading destination for business travellers thanks to its many trade shows and industries. There was almost no leisure tourism to speak of, however. Today, Lyon draws 5.5 million visitors a year, i.e. 2 million more than 10 years ago.

Since Vieux-Lyon, the town’s older historical district, became part of UNESCO’s World Heritage in 1998, Lyon has initiated a number of projects to redevelop and beautify the city, such as the transformation of the Rhône and Saône embankments, or the redevelopment of the Lyon-Confluence eco-district. A symbol of this neighborhood’s renewal, Musée des Confluences has become the region’s most-visited site.

Alongside these major urban development projects, Lyon’s also owes its success to the ONLYLYON brand, launched in 2007 by 13 economic partners in the Lyon area, which namely relies on a network of over 25,000 Ambassadors around the globe who love the city and are proud to say it loud and clear. In 10 years, Lyon has made its way into a number of French, European and worldwide rankings, underscoring its growing appeal. In 2015, British daily The Guardian named Lyon as one of its top 10 “alternative destinations” in Europe, among the likes of Turin and Leipzig.

Every year, the World Travel Awards honors Europe’s leading city for tourism.  In all, 167,000 travel agents and tourism-industry professionals from around the world and thousands of Internet users voted for their favorite weekend destination in 2016.