Today, the European Commission announces the three shortlisted destinations for the European Destination of Excellence (EDEN) 2022 competition.
This initiative rewards the best achievements in sustainable tourism and green transition practices in smaller destinations across Europe.
Gürsu in Turkey and Middelfart and Thisted in Denmark convinced the panel of independent sustainability experts with their applications and were chosen ahead of 40 other applicant destinations. The winner of the 2022 award will be selected from this shortlist of three.
The European Destinations of Excellence is an EU initiative, implemented by the European Commission. Its aim is to recognise and reward smaller destinations that have in place successful strategies to boost sustainable tourism through green transition practices. The competition is founded upon the principle of promoting the development of sustainable tourism in destinations which brings value to the economy, the planet and the people. The initiative covers EU countries as well non-EU countries participating in the COSME programme. The competition addresses smaller tourism destinations which can showcase their outstanding achievements in sustainability and inspire other tourism destinations in their green transition.
In order to compete for the 2022 European Destination of Excellence title, destinations were asked to demonstrate their best practices in sustainable tourism and green transition. In the next step, the three shortlisted destinations will be asked to present their town’s candidature in front of the European Jury. The European Jury will select one winner, the European Destination of Excellence 2022, which will be awarded in November 2021.
The winning destination will be positioned as a tourism sustainability pioneer committed to the European Green Deal objectives and will receive expert communication and branding support at the EU level throughout 2022.
Situated in the beautiful north of Denmark, surrounded by the National Park Thy and the famous Limfjord sits the town of Thisted. With a population of 13,000, Thisted is the administrative and political centre of the municipality of Thisted in the northwest of Jutland.
Thisted stands out because of its commitment to renewable energy and the locality, making it a sustainable place to live and visit. From being self-sufficient in renewable electricity, including wind and wave energy, to sustainable waste management, Thisted is fast becoming a trend-setting European destination for sustainable tourism done right.
Thisted attracts an array of external expertise and investment by cultivating a culture that sees energy and tourism as developing symbiotic assets. Here, the population can directly benefit from sustainable tourism through a continuous collaborative approach between the destination’s public and private stakeholders.
When coming to Thisted, the tourism experience is as varied as it is sustainable. With synergy between both components, Thisted constantly evolves its destination products and renewable energy opportunities.
The city and municipality of Gürsu are situated in Turkey’s Bursa province, just south of Istanbul. With a population of 96,000, Gürsu is poised to show the positive impacts sustainable tourism can have on a larger population.
Gürsu has a proven track record of impactful green and sustainable practices from environmental measures to social and tourism projects with strong investment and efforts to reduce the ecological footprint. These have not only improved agricultural practices but enhanced the tourism experience.
To complement this, Gürsu emphasises training and educational programmes to increase awareness and knowledge about green and sustainable practices amongst the residents and key stakeholders. There are projects geared toward women and disadvantaged groups, designed to empower them and lead to greater job creation.
Gürsu has committed to a 5-year strategic plan for tourism investments.
The location’s participation is high and, in turn, they benefit from the environmental protection measures. Examples include tourism-driven infrastructures that increase job creation while also enhancing recreational experiences for residents and visitors alike.
Linking Jutland and Funen, the town of Middelfart with a population of 15,000 stands as a proud historic link between two of the many islands of Denmark. Situated on the banks of the Little Belt, Middelfart remains a historic and culturally important destination in Denmark and Europe.
Focusing on sustainable tourism, Middelfart is carving out a new reputation not only bridging Danish cultural history but pioneering sustainability in Europe. Middelfart is developing collaborative synergy across the board by prioritising water quality, climate protection and sustainability, benefiting residents, urban development, the economy and visitors.
With joint learning and development at the heart of the strategy, Middelfart invites all stakeholders and businesses to undergo sustainable transformation together. By creating awareness, Middelfart ensures a broad transfer of knowledge on sustainable tourism.
Measures for flora and fauna in wildlife environments enable a secure and unique experience for visitors while also safeguarding the attraction. To maintain this attractive environment, Middelfart offers a wide range of climate-related education for all stakeholders, interested parties and tourists.