Iceland’s Westfjords win European tourism prize

The Westfjords region of Iceland was presented with the EDEN tourism prize at a ceremony in Brussels this week. EDEN stands for “European Destination of Excellence”.

The Westfjords is the first Icelandic destination to receive the EDEN award, which emphasises sustainable tourism. This year’s theme was tourism connected to water and the sea.

It was the people behind WaterTrail.is who entered the region in the competition and they expect a huge boost from the result. A marketing campaign is already being planned.

By promoting sustainable tourism practices in less well-known parts of Europe, EDEN hopes to make European tourism more varied and rewarding; but also to reduce tourism’s impact on the most popular destinations by spreading the burden.

Antonio Tajani, European Commission Vice-President in charge of Industry and Entrepreneurship said: “These twenty five splendid locations follow eco-friendly measures that constantly respect nature, with an eye to preserving the eco-systems for generations to follow. These mostly coastal, lake and riverside tourism destinations promote innovative approaches for their aquatic tourism offer in such a way as not only to promote a more qualitative environment but also to cope with the seasonality problem and to rebalance the tourist flows towards non-traditional destinations.”
The winning locations that received the title of ‘2010 European Destination of Excellence in Aquatic Tourism’ are:

Seelentium – the Upper Innviertel region (Austria)

The Lakes of Eau d’heure (Belgium)

Regional Administration Silistra (Bulgaria)

Nin (Croatia), Kato Pyrgos (Cyprus)

Byst?icko (Czech Republic), Lake Võrtsjärv (Estonia)

Saimaa Holiday (Finland)

The Grand Site du Marais Poitevin (France)

Western Pomeranian River District (Germany)

Prefecture of Serres (Greece)

Lake Tisza (Hungary)

The Westfjords region (Iceland),

Loop Head Peninsula in Co. Clare – Kilkee (Ireland)

Municipality of Monte Isola (Italy)

Sea Resort J?rmala (Latvia)

Zarasai Region – Heavenly Shore on Earth (Lithuania)

The Nature Park of the Upper Sûre (Luxembourg)

Isla (Senglea) (Malta)

WaterReijk Weerribben Wieden – Giethoorn & the wetlands (The Netherlands)

The Biebrza Valley and Wetlands – Wildlife Sanctuary (Poland)

Geoagiu B?i (Romania)

River Kolpa (Slovenia)

A Guarda (Spain)

Bitlis-Nemrut Crater Lake (Turkey).

Since 2007 EDEN has been promoting sustainable tourism models across the European Union and candidate countries. The project is based upon national competitions that are held every year and result in the selection of a ‘tourist destination of excellence for each participating country.

This European quest for excellence in tourism is developed around an annual theme, chosen by the Commission together with the relevant national tourism authorities. To date the themes have focused on rural tourism (2007), local intangible heritage (2008), protected areas (2009) and this year’s theme of aquatic tourism.