Europe awards the ten best rural tourist destinations
by Vicky Karantzavelou
Vice President Gunter Verheugen awarded the "European Destinations of Excellence" (EDEN) to the ten best emerging rural destinations at the European Annual Tourism Forum in Portugal on 26th of October. The aim of EDEN is twofold: to draw attention to the value, diversity and shared characteristics of European tourist destinations and to promote destinations where commercial success goes hand in hand with social, cultural and environmental sustainability. It also creates awareness of Europe’s tourist diversity and quality, besides promoting Europe as the foremost tourism destination in the world.
Commission Vice-President Gunter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy, said: “The EDEN Project supports European tourism and enhances the visibility of several non traditional destinations. It is a platform for the exchange of good practices at European level while rewarding sustainable forms of tourism and successful business models. It will contribute to creating new and upgrading existing jobs.”
Ten countries participated in the EDEN Awards, for which national juries made the selections. Next year seven additional Member States of the EU (Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, France, Lithuania, Spain and Romania) and Turkey will participate in the EDEN Awards. The ten winning destinations of excellence in 2007 are:
Austria: Pielachtal, Dirndl is the valley’s trademark
The Pielachtal is a valley in the Alpine foothills of the province of Lower Austria. Its culture, nature, way of life, handicrafts and specialty foods are combined to form a network of innovative offers. The Dirndl, or Cornel, popularly known as a cherry, is cultivated as the valley’s “trademark”.
Belgium: Durbuy, the smallest city of the world
The community Durbuy is situated in Wallonia in the Ardennes, and consists of 40 small villages. Durbuy is registered as "city" since the Middle Ages for its efficient justice and trade organization. Thus the old town of Durbuy became "the smallest city of the world".
Croatia: Sveti Martin na Muri, preserved natural heritage
The district of Sveti Martin na Muri is located in the North, close to the tri-border with Slovenia and Hungary, where the River Mura enters the territory of Croatia. The destination has been profiled as a rural as well as a spa destination. It has a thermal spring of medicinal water and is the largest and one of the most beautiful spas in Croatia.
Cyprus: Troodos, A relaxing break away from cosmopolitan coastal resorts
Troodos has five distinct regions, grouped around Mount Olympus. The area offers an abundance of things to do and see: walking or cycling through forest nature trails, attending local village festivals, experiencing the local traditional cuisine and discovering the cultural treasures of UNESCO World Heritage sites are among the main pursuits.
Greece: Florina, Conciliating tourism and rural environment
The region of Florina is located in Northern Greece in West Macedonia. Geographically, it consists of mountainous and semi mountainous areas and lowlands. The mountains of Varnoutas, Vernon and Voras contain the ski centre and European Alpine routes whose peaks reach out to the fertile valleys and the six lakes of Prespes.
Hungary: Orseg, Characteristic landscape in harmony with nature
The Orseg region is located in the most western corner of Hungary. The unique landscape is characterized by a variety of natural beauties: hills and valleys, deciduous and coniferous woodlands, green hayfields, moors, springs and streams. Besides these beauties, the unchanged folk traditions and customs, traditional crafts and the products of self-sufficient farming and lifestyle also attract visitors.
Ireland: Clonakilty District, amenities of natural beauty
The Clonakilty District is situated on the coast in South West Ireland. There are many amenities of natural beauty which are easily accessed. In addition to an abundance of activities on land and sea, music sessions and fresh local produce there are also a full range of heritage sites, galleries, pubs, walking routes and fishing points.
Italy: Specchia, Tradition meets innovation
Specchia is located in Southern Italy (Province of Lecce, Puglia Region). It is a site of great natural and cultural value and an important centre for the rural economy in the region. Specchia is a shining example of a place where tradition meets innovation. For example, there is the Protonobilissimo castle, which dates back to the XV century, as well as a public access Centre for advanced digital services.
Latvia: Kuldiga, The Latvian Venice
Kuldiga town in the Kurzeme region with its historical part and Valley of the River Venta is known as “The Latvian Venice”. Its tourism recourses are based on its historical and cultural heritage and the Venta River which is one of the largest and most picturesque rivers of Latvia. “Ventas Rumba” is the widest waterfall in Europe (240m).
Malta: Nadur, Scenic beauty which are unique and rather rare
Nadur is situated on the easternmost hill of the island of Gozo, Malta's sister-island. Fresh fruit such as apples, peaches, pears, plums, oranges, lemons and melons from the fields of Nadur are distributed around Malta and Gozo. Nadur also has a plenty of cultural heritage and offers a number of areas of scenic beauty which are unique and rather rare