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EDEN Themes

EDEN Themes

The principles of EDEN

The principle of EDEN is simple: every other year a theme is chosen by the European Commission in close cooperation with national tourism authorities. Eligible destinations have to show that an economically viable tourism offer has been developed based on that year’s EDEN theme. One destination is selected as a winner, alongside 4 runners-up per each participating country.

Each theme serves to showcase Europe's diversity, including its natural resources, historical heritage, traditional celebrations and local gastronomy. The topics are always related to sustainable tourism development, whether from a cultural, economic, environmental or local involvement point of view.

The destinations have the chance to show off what makes them unique and show tourists that an unforgettable experience awaits them. The winning destinations are the emerging, non-traditional destinations that best reflect the chosen theme of the year and that offer a unique tourism experience, in line with sustainable models.

2015: Tourism and local gastronomy

The theme for the seventh EDEN edition is Tourism and local gastronomy.

20 European countries have participated in this edition and each country has selected one winning destination and up to four runners-up. The winning destinations have successfully implemented a tourism offer based on their specific local gastronomy.

Additionally, each destination had to respect the following general award criteria:

  • be 'non-traditional' with a low number of visitors (in comparison with the national average)
  • manage their own tourism offer in a way that ensures social, cultural and environmental sustainability
  • be managed by a partnership between the public authorities and all those involved in tourism in and around the area (public-private partnerships are admitted)
  • From 2013, destinations also had to have in place, or under preparation, a marketing management structure and a defined strategy for sustainable tourism development.

Winning destinations

2013: Accessible tourism

The theme for the 2013 EDEN awards was Accessible tourism. Winning destinations have based their tourism offer on accessibility for tourists regardless of their special needs, limitations, disabilities or age.

Five main aspects of accessibility were particularly taken into consideration for the award:

  • the destination is barrier-free (infrastructure and facilities)
  • the destination is accessible by transport means suited to all users
  • the services provided are of high quality and delivered by trained staff
  • the activities, exhibits, attractions allow participation by everyone
  • the marketing, booking systems, websites and services provide information accessible to all.

Additionally, each destination had to respect the following general award criteria:

  • be 'non-traditional' with a low number of visitors (in comparison with the national average)
  • manage their own tourism offer in a way that ensures social, cultural and environmental sustainability
  • be managed by a partnership between the public authorities and all those involved in tourism in and around the area (public-private partnerships are admitted)
  • From 2013, destinations also had to have in place, or under preparation, a marketing management structure and a defined strategy for sustainable tourism development.

A call for proposals was launched by the Commission in March 2012. Participating countries selected the winning destinations among the candidate destinations, and the winners were officially awarded in Brussels on 12 November 2013.

Winning destinations

2011: Tourism and regeneration of physical sites

The 2011 quest rewarded destinations which have regenerated a physical site of local heritage and converted it into a tourism attraction to be used as a catalyst for wider local regeneration.

A call for proposals was launched by the Commission in March 2011. Participating countries selected the winning destinations among the candidate destinations, and the winners were officially awarded in Brussels on 27 September 2011.

Each destination had to respect the following general award criteria:

  • be 'non-traditional' with a low number of visitors (in comparison with the national average)
  • manage their own tourism offer in a way that ensures social, cultural and environmental sustainability
  • be managed by a partnership between the public authorities and all those involved in tourism in and around the area (public-private partnerships are admitted).

Winning destinations

2010: Aquatic tourism

The 2010 quest focused on coastal, lake and riverside destinations that promote innovative approaches towards their aquatic tourism offer. The winning destinations focus on developing a higher quality environment, addressing the seasonality issue and rebalancing tourist flows from the most famous and crowed tourist destinations.

The call for proposals was launched by the Commission in February 2010. Participating countries selected the winning destinations among the candidate destinations and the winners were officially awarded in Brussels on 27 September 2010.

Each destination had to respect the following general award criteria:

  • be 'non-traditional' with a low number of visitors (in comparison with the national average)
  • manage their own tourism offer in a way that ensures social, cultural and environmental sustainability
  • be managed by a partnership between the public authorities and all those involved in tourism in and around the area (public-private partnerships are admitted).

Winning destinations

2009: Tourism and protected areas

The 2009 EDEN award focused on promoting sustainable tourism in protected areas. Eligible destinations were protected areas and/or the areas bordering them where an economically viable tourism product has been developed using the protected area as an asset, all the while respecting the protected environment and meeting the needs of local residents and visitors.

The call for proposals was launched by the Commission in March and 22 countries responded. 22 destinations of excellence were officially awarded on the occasion of the European Tourism Forum in October 2009.

Each destination had to respect the following general award criteria:

  • be 'non-traditional' with a low number of visitors (in comparison with the national average)
  • manage their own tourism offer in a way that ensures social, cultural and environmental sustainability
  • be managed by a partnership between the public authorities and all those involved in tourism in and around the area (public-private partnerships are admitted).

Winning destinations

2008: Tourism and local intangible heritage

In 2008, destinations were awarded, not for their monuments or facilities, but for the traditions they have inherited and preserved through the generations. This living or ‘intangible’ heritage serves to bring people closer to the communities they live in by giving them a sense of identity and continuity. It includes culinary traditions, handcrafts, local arts and rural life.

20 destinations of excellence were awarded to 18 EU countries and 2 candidate countries. The award ceremony took place at the European Tourism Forum in Bordeaux, France in September 2008.

Each destination had to respect the following general award criteria:

  • be 'non-traditional' with a low number of visitors (in comparison with the national average)
  • manage their own tourism offer in a way that ensures social, cultural and environmental sustainability
  • be managed by a partnership between the public authorities and all those involved in tourism in and around the area (public-private partnerships are admitted).

Winning destinations

2007: Best emerging European rural destination of excellence

For the first awards in 2007, Europe rediscovered its rural dimension. The search was directed towards destinations that supported the development of rural tourism by making the most of their heritage, offering new products and improving the spread of visitors over seasons.

Ten destinations of excellence were awarded the title 'Best emerging European rural destination of excellence'. 9 EU countries and one candidate country took part in the project. The award ceremony took place at the European Tourism Forum in Algarve, Portugal, 25-26 October 2007.

Each destination had to respect the following general award criteria:

  • be 'non-traditional' with a low number of visitors (in comparison with the national average)
  • manage their own tourism offer in a way that ensures social, cultural and environmental sustainability
  • be managed by a partnership between the public authorities and all those involved in tourism in and around the area (public-private partnerships are admitted).

Winning destinations

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