European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN)
Ireland is a Destination of Excellence, called Irelands Eden
EDEN is the acronym for European Destinations of Excellence, a project promoting sustainable tourism development models across the European Union. The project is based on national competitions that take place every other year and result in the selection of a tourist “destination of excellence” for each participating country. Through the selection of destinations, EDEN effectively achieves the objective of drawing attention to the values, diversity and common features of European tourist destinations. It enhances the visibility of emerging European destinations, creates a platform for sharing good practices across Europe and promotes networking between awarded destinations.
The key feature of the selected destinations is their commitment to social,cultural and environmental sustainability. The recipients of the award are emerging, undiscovered European destinations located in the 28 EU Countries and candidate Countries. The EDEN project helps to spread the sustainable practices used in the chosen destinations across the Union and to turn these places into all-year-round venues. The process thus aims to help de-congest over-visited tourist destinations.
The EDEN initiative aims not only to bring greater visibility to lesser known but excellent tourist destinations, but also to help professionals and interested localities to maximise their potential and develop tourism services in line with sustainable development principles.
This European quest for excellence in tourism is developed around an annual theme, chosen by the Commission together with the relevant national tourism bodies. This theme functions as a leitmotif: so far, accessible tourism, local gastromony, rural tourism, intangible heritage, protected areas, aquatic tourism and regeneration of physical sites have been the EDEN themes.
The development of this project is backed by the European Commission which launched the project in 2006 and still plays a crucial coordinating role. Its tasks include encouraging dialogue among stakeholders, co- financing the selection procedures, organising the award ceremony during the European Tourism Forum and coordinating a comprehensive communication campaign. The 28 participating countries involving a total of 140 winning destinations are currently formalising the network as an association which will serve as a model within the sustainable and responsible tourism sectors across Europe. Irelands network representatives play a key role in this process and are a project leader on the European EDEN Steering Committee.