4 min read
25 May

The European Destinations of ExcellenNce (EDEN) Award is a long-standing initiative in the tourism field. Its first edition took place fifteen years ago, precisely on 2007. Since that time this initiative has been conducted by the European Institutions every 2 years. Its main aim is to give visibility and support to smaller centres that want to become a model in attracting sustainable tourism at the international level. There is no doubt that the green transition together with the current pandemia will have long-term effects on the tourism sector all over Europe. Even when the epidemiologic crisis will end, more and more people will be searching for new destinations, in particular those that demonstrate a lively respect for green sustainability and quality experiences in favour of visitors. In this context the EDEN initiative has relevant objectives such as: 

1. showcase the best achievements in sustainable tourism and green transition practices across smaller European destinations; 

2. promote the development of sustainable tourism in destinations, bringing value to the economy, the planet and the people; 

3. establish a framework for participating destinations to exchange best practices and create opportunities for cooperation and new partnerships. 

For 2022 the EDEN competition will name one ‘European Destination of Excellence’, a label that signals a destination’s forward- thinking approach and identify them as a sustainable tourism pioneer. Eligible applicants to the competition can be towns with populations between 25,000 and 100,000 inhabitants placed in EU countries and in COSME Programme Partner countries. 

The competition  

The destination representatives that want to take part to the competition will be asked to present the sustainability practices and green transition measures that have made the town a sustainable tourism destination. It will be important to describe the green transition practices (e.g.: projects, initiatives, legislative investments etc.) related to various aspects, such as: 

1. Managing / protecting natural resources in tourism destinations fully respecting environment and biodiversity; 

2. Implementation of resource efficiency measures, more sustainable consumption (e.g., waste, water, energy); 

3. Measures aimed at reducing tourism seasonality

4. Implementation of a scheme to measure sustainability of tourism destination

5. Implementing measures aimed at climate adaptation; 

6. Involvement of local communities, including social inclusion, through tourism, linking visitors with locals (sharing history, gastronomy, protection of nature, etc.); 

7. Balanced economic performance of tourism including sharing revenues with local communities, contribution to local employment, contribution to diversification of local economies, returning tourism revenues into local development. 

All submitted applications, under the condition that they are admissible and eligible, will be reviewed in a pre-selection phase (Evaluation Step1) by a panel of independent experts in the field of sustainable tourism. The shortlisted destinations will be invited to present their candidatures and the programme they intend to implement during 2022 as the potential European Destination of Excellence, in front of the European Jury in November 2021. 

Each finalist destination will outline its programme including the EU dimension of its actions. The destinations are free to propose the activities they deem relevant (promotional actions, events, marketing measures, launching of specific projects, etc.). 

Destination representatives should describe the added value the title would bring to position the tourism destination as a ‘sustainable tourism pioneer’ and to attract tourists from third countries. The presentation should also further elaborate on how the title would contribute to foster sustainable tourism development and how the destination would involve other EU locations in promoting and disseminating green measures and best practices. 

Applications must be submitted by 16 June 2021, 17:00 CET.

What are the benefits  

The winner will receive for one year expert communication and branding support in promoting their destination in the media and online. This will include a video highlighting the sustainable practices that helped the town stand out. The EU will also promote the winning destination to raise the town’s profile and boost tourism. 

The EDEN Network  

Through the past years the awarded towns have established the EDEN Network. It consists of the winners and runners-up of the EDEN competitions. The network is a platform for exchanging good practice in sustainable tourism on a European level and for promoting contact between award-winning destinations. The network aims to encourage other destinations to adopt sustainable tourism development models. The original members of the network were the 30 winning destinations from the first two editions of the EDEN competition. The following winners and runners-up of the EDEN competition have since been invited to join the network, ensuring a wider collection of model destinations, while preserving the strict criteria of sustainability. With more than 350 EDEN destinations from 27 European countries as members to date, the EDEN network is the world's biggest network in the field of sustainable tourism

The winners of the last edition  

The theme for the 9th EDEN edition was Health and well-being tourism. 17 European countries took part in the 2019 edition. One winner and up to four runners-up were selected by each country. The winning destinations have successfully implemented a tourism offer providing wellness tourism services based on the destination’s natural or cultural, historical, spiritual resources. These include, but are not limited to water-based and sweat-bathing treatments and facilities, manual-pressure based and manipulative body-based therapies, herbal medicine and natural remedies, healthy nutrition and diet, exercise and fitness, mind/ body interventions, meditation and relaxation techniques and education activities, etc. 

The winners of the past competition were: 

  • Kostenets, Bulgaria 
  • Sveti Martin na Muri, Croatia 
  • Miliou, Cyprus 
  • Zlínsko & Luhačovicko, Czech Republic 
  • Pärnu, Estonia • 
  • Western Lakeland, Finland 
  • Strandhill, Ireland 
  • Valdichiana Senese, Italy 
  • Veclaicene, Latvia 
  • Paliesius, Lithuania Żejtun, Malta 
  • Gołdap, Poland 
  • Tăuții Măgherăuș, Romania 
  • Kursumlija, Serbia 
  • Podčetrtek, Slovenia 
  • Ambroz Valley, Spain 
  • Balıkesir, Turkey
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