Today, the European Commission announces the three preselected destinations for the 2022 European Destination of Excellence (EDEN) 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 experts in sustainable development with their applications and were chosen from 40 other candidate destinations. The winner of the 2022 prize will be selected from this list of three candidates.
European Destinations of Excellence is an EU initiative, implemented by the European Commission. Its goal is to recognize and reward small destinations that have put in place effective strategies to boost sustainable tourism through green transition practices. The competition is based on the principle of promoting the development of sustainable tourism in destinations that add value to the economy, the planet and people. The initiative covers EU countries as well as non-EU countries participating in the COSME program. The competition is aimed at smaller tourism destinations that can showcase their outstanding sustainability achievements and inspire other tourism destinations in their green transition.
In order to compete for the title of European Destination of Excellence 2022, destinations have been invited to demonstrate their best practices in sustainable tourism and green transition. In the next step, the three shortlisted destinations will be invited to present their city’s candidacy to the European Jury. The European jury will select a winner, the European Destination of Excellence 2022, which will be awarded in November 2021.
The winning destination will position itself as a pioneer of sustainable tourism committed to the objectives of the European Green Deal and will receive expert support in communication and branding at EU level throughout 2022.
Located in beautiful northern Denmark, surrounded by Thy National Park and the famous Limfjord lies the town of Thisted. With a population of 13,000, Thisted is the administrative and political center of the municipality of Thisted in northwest Jutland.
Thisted sets itself apart with its commitment to renewable energy and locality, which makes it a sustainable place to live and visit. From self-sufficiency in renewable electricity, including wind and wave energy, to sustainable waste management, Thisted is rapidly becoming a forward-thinking European destination for sustainable tourism well done.
Thisted attracts a range of expertise and external investments by cultivating a culture that views energy and tourism as the development of symbiotic assets. Here, the population can directly benefit from sustainable tourism thanks to a continuous collaborative approach between the public and private actors of the destination.
Coming to Thisted, the tourist experience is as varied as it is lasting. Thanks to the synergy between the two components, Thisted is constantly developing its destination products and its renewable energy opportunities.
The city and municipality of Gürsu is located in the Turkish province of Bursa, just south of Istanbul. With a population of 96,000, Gürsu is poised to show the positive impacts that sustainable tourism can have on a wider population.
Gürsu has a proven track record of impactful green and sustainable practices, from environmental measures to social and tourism projects with significant investments and efforts to reduce the ecological footprint. These have not only improved farming practices, but also improved the tourist experience.
To complement this, Gürsu emphasizes training and education programs to increase awareness and knowledge about green and sustainable practices among residents and key stakeholders. There are projects aimed at women and disadvantaged groups, designed to empower them and lead to greater job creation.
Gürsu is committed to a 5-year strategic plan for tourism investments.
The participation of the site is high and, in turn, they benefit from the environmental protection measures. Examples include tourism-oriented infrastructure that increases job creation while enhancing recreational experiences for residents and visitors.
Linking Jutland and Funen, the town of Middelfart with a population of 15,000 is a proud historical link between two of Denmark’s many islands. Located on the banks of the Little Belt, Middelfart remains a historic and culturally important destination in Denmark and Europe.
By focusing on sustainable tourism, Middelfart is carving out a new reputation not only by bridging Danish cultural history, but by pioneering sustainability in Europe. Middelfart develops a collaborative synergy at all levels by prioritizing water quality, climate protection and sustainability, for the benefit of residents, urban development, the economy and visitors.
With common learning and development at the heart of the strategy, Middelfart invites all stakeholders and companies to jointly undertake a sustainable transformation. By creating awareness, Middelfart ensures a wide transfer of knowledge on sustainable tourism.
The measures for fauna and flora in wildlife environments allow a secure and unique experience for visitors while preserving the attraction. To keep this environment attractive, Middelfart offers a wide range of climate related education for all stakeholders, interested parties and tourists.
 Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine and United Kingdom. https://ec.europa.eu/docsroom/documents/39579