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Brussels, 8 th of October 2009

22 High quality European tourist destinations receive the European Destinations of Excellence 2009 awards

Representatives of 22 European tourist towns and regions from as many countries have today received the 2009 European Destination of Excellence (EDEN) awards. For this year's awards 20 EU Member States and Turkey and Croatia put several hundred candidates forward to compete for being the best destination under the theme of “t ourism and protected areas". The awards were handed out on Thursday evening by European Commissioner Pawel Samecki, responsible for regional policy, on the occasion of the European Tourism Day and the European Tourism Forum in Brussels.

Commissioner Pawel Samecki, responsible for regional policy, and Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy, said: “ Each of the competing destinations is unique. This year's awards show once again that European regions are great tourism destinations – and all worth being discovered. They also demonstrate that environmental sustainability and competitive economic activity can go hand-in-hand if based on innovative and high quality service. This is the blueprint for our future. Our sincere congratulations to the winners.”

For the third consecutive year, the EDEN awards promote European high quality tourist destinations which care for their culture, their history and their environment. With the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Poland joining in, 22 countries have participated in the 2008-2009 edition.

The winning destinations, chosen by national juries, are located in protected areas (i.e. area of land and/or sea/internal waters dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, and managed through legal or other effective means) and areas bordering them, where an economically viable tourism product has been developed using the protected area as an asset, while respecting its protected environment and at the same time meeting the needs of local residents and visitors.

With EDEN the Commission helps to promote Europe as a world-class tourist destination and allows destinations to enhance their attractiveness by offering a platform to share good practices.

For the list of the winning regions see MEMO/09/440

More information on the EDEN Awards

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