Brussels, 18 September 2008
European Commission Vice-President Gunter Verheugen awarded twenty localities with the title of “best local intangible heritage destination in Europe” on the occasion of the 7th European Tourism Forum in Bordeaux today. The European Destinations of Excellence awards promote venues where commercial success goes hand in hand with social, cultural and environmental sustainability.
Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy said: “If Europe wants to retain its reputation as the foremost tourism destination in the world, it has to build on its strength and to demonstrate that its tourism regions are excellent. We should keep in mind that tourism is an increasingly important sector for our economy, with lots of new jobs being created in particular in small- and medium-sized enterprises. My sincere congratulations to the winners 2008.”
The number of countries participating in EDEN doubled in the second edition of EDEN 2007-2008 (18 Member States and 2 Candidate Countries) under the theme ‘tourism and local intangible heritage'. Specific local intangible heritage such as local cuisine, handicrafts, local arts or village life were rewarded today. For the list of the twenty winning destinations from twenty countries, see MEMO/08/570
The European Commission will be giving additional exposure to the winning destinations in order to highlight the destinations' traditions, customs, ideas, tastes, arts and crafts. For example, the representatives of all the winning destinations have been invited to participate in the European Day of Tourism, which will be organized in the framework of the Open Days event on the 7th October 2008 in Brussels. The winners will also officially sign a declaration setting up the Network of EDEN destinations.
This year’s EDEN awards were held in Bordeaux as part of the European Tourism Forum, which is being organised by the European Commission in collaboration with the French Presidency of the European Union and offers a discussion forum for authorities, European stakeholders and delegations from Member States. It also includes an informal ministerial meeting of EU tourism ministers.
Throughout the two-day gathering, participants are discussing the issue of the competitiveness of Europe's tourism offer in view of the evolving world and specifically emerging markets' tourism demand trends, and the requirements of sustainability and quality of tourism employment in the EU.
The improvement of the quality of tourism destinations and services both require coherent action from private and public sectors. The forum will continue its work tomorrow and focus its discussions on improving tourism employment, the quality of service and the need for additional vocational training.