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 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.
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, rural tourism, intangible heritage and protected areas have been the main EDEN themes.
The key feature of the selected destinations is their commitment to social, cultural and environmental sustainability. The recipients of the award are emerging, little known European destinations located in the 27 Member States 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 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 (in the first two years, during the European Tourism Forum) and coordinating a comprehensive communication campaign.
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, handicrafts, local arts and rural life.
In 2008 Kırkpınar Oil Wrestlings has won the award of EDEN” European Destinations of Excellence” which is organized in Europe and Turkey participated for the first time
Twenty destinations of excellence were awarded the title “2008 European Tourist Destination of Excellence in Intangible Heritage”. 18 Member States and 2 candidate countries took part in the project. The award ceremony took place at the European Tourism Forum in Bordeaux, France, 18-19 September 2008.