EDEN – European Destinations of Excellence

The European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) initiative rewards and promotes sustainable tourism practices in smaller tourist destinations.

Since 2007, the European Commission has supported EU countries in rewarding non-traditional, emerging sustainable tourism destinations in Europe through the EDEN award. The initiative aimed to foster sustainable tourism destination management models across Europe by selecting and promoting EDEN destinations.

The EU Green Deal, our commitment to a climate-neutral Europe by 2050, and the focus on circular economies, will drive changes in the tourism industry. The ecosystem will need to change how it operates, including how destinations are managed, to deliver sustainable and quality experience to visitors.

The EDEN initiative aims to

  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

Each year, the EDEN competition will name one ‘European Destination of Excellence’, an accolade that will signal a destination’s forward-thinking approach and identify them as a sustainable tourism pioneer.

The winner will receive 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.

Destinations in EU countries and COSME countries with populations between 25,000 and 100,000 inhabitants are eligible to apply.

To apply, destination representatives are asked to complete an online form. The deadline for applications is 16 June 2021 at 17:00 CET.

Applicants are asked to describe concrete examples of measures that have been implemented with the aim of boosting sustainable tourism through green transition practices. How well a destination is performing will be assessed on the basis of the following four assessment criteria:

1. How significant is the impact of the green practices? And what is the level of innovation? (To what degree can we consider the destination as a “thought leader”?) Applying this criterion, the evaluating experts will assess how impactful the implemented measures are. They will also look at why these measures were innovative in the applicant destination.

2. How far does the local community benefit from the green practices? Under this criterion, the experts will assess the benefits of the measures on the local business environment and the local community. Detailed information about the tangible and, where possible, measurable impacts of the implementations, including delivering quantitative data on relevant indicators, will support the assessment.

3. How transferable / replicable are the green transition practices for other destinations? Applying this criterion, the evaluating experts will assess what strategies were applied, how they have changed the tourism experience and if they can be implemented in other cities.

4. How strategic is the commitment to a long-term green transition as a tourism destination? Under this criterion, the experts will assess the strategic, long-term solution-based approach, instead of just short-term problem fixing. It will also be 10 assessed, how the results of the implemented measures are being sustained over time.

Source: European Commission