Last year alone, approximately half (51 percent) of all European holidaymakers planned to enjoy a vacation in their home country. With many predicting the trend to continue into 2012, the European Commission, through its initiative, “European Destinations of ExcelleNce” (EDEN) is urging Europeans to discover the breadth of hidden treasures on their doorstep.
The purpose of EDEN is to showcase what Europe has to offer, unique destinations that, until now, have been relatively undiscovered. Across Europe, EDEN destinations give visitors a great chance to learn more about the culture and traditions of their own country.
Destinations compete to be awarded the destination of excellence, focusing on a different theme each year. Maša Puklavec, from the Slovenian Tourist Board said: “Slovenian EDEN destinations are shining examples of sustainable tourism and provide an unforgettable experience for visitors that seek inspiration and enjoyment in scenery landscapes, the luxury of various water sources, and authentic local gastronomy. The EDEN initiative helps to promote emerging destinations, diversifying and upgrading the current offer, but also integrating the locals and creating a positive attitude within the destinations.”
In 2012, there will be no new selection process, but a more active promotion of already selected destinations will take place – hence, a number of promotional activities will be carried out at the level of the European Commission and the Slovenian Tourist Board. The expert committee for the selection of destinations of excellence will revisit all winning destinations, check through and advise them about further activities. Which were these destinations?
In 2011, winning destinations were singled out for playing a key role in reviving their region, bringing sustainable development and new life to run-down cultural, historical, and natural sites and acting as a catalyst for wider local regeneration. Famous for its mercury mine and lace making, Slovenia’s winner, Idrija, is a fascinating destination with spectacular scenery. Picturesque mountains, pristine forests, and Lake Wilde create a breathtaking landscape. Its rich cultural, natural, and industrial heritage is treasured by local people proud of their history.
The competition in 2010 celebrated destinations for innovative approaches towards aquatic tourism. The River Kolpa was selected as Slovenia’s winner. The river is considered the longest Slovenian “coastline” and one of the warmest rivers in Slovenia. The river is particularly popular in the summer months, as the water`s temperature rises up to 30°C. Visitors can choose between a wide range of sports and recreational activities, such as boating, canoeing, kayaking, or rafting.
In 2009, EDEN focused on tourism in protected areas. The Alpine scenery of Solčavsko offers breathtaking natural sites. The three mighty glacial valleys are the main highlight of any stay. The most visited is the Logarska dolina nature park with picturesque views of the mountain chain of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and the spectacular waterfalls. A lot of interesting hiking trails lead visitors into the lap of the Alps. A number of old stories reveal connections between people and nature and invite them for unforgettable experiences.
In 2008, EDEN’s theme was tourism and local intangible heritage. The Soča valley, with its rich WWI heritage, was selected as Slovenia`s first winner. Situated in the heart of the Julian Alps and in one of Europe’s oldest national parks, Triglav National Park, Slovenia’s first alpine botanical garden and snow-covered peaks provide a perfect view sloping down towards the sea. The area is famous for white-water activities on the emerald Soča River.