Sustainable Destinations: The EDEN Award Shortlist Has Been Announced

By Olivia Emily

2 years ago

The European Destination of Excellence (EDEN) initiative rewards the best achievements in sustainable tourism

In 2022, new tourism initiatives are fuelled by sustainability, and the European Commission rewards smaller European countries’ efforts toward ecotourism via the European Destination of Excellence (EDEN) initiative. It recently announced the 2023 EDEN award shortlist – here are the green destinations to keep your eye on in the coming years.

Read the C&TH Responsible Tourism Guide

The EDEN Award 2023 Shortlist Has Been Announced

What is the EDEN Award?

Implemented by the European Commission, the EDEN award is an EU initiative that recognises smaller destinations who are boosting their tourism through sustainable practice. The initiative aims to promote sustainable tourism development, which will benefit the EU’s economy, environment and population.

To apply, destinations – either situated in the EU or participating in the EU’s COSME programme – have to demonstrate their best practices in sustainable tourism, from climate targets to green energy use and production to sustainable tourism activities.

Now that the shortlist has been announced, the finalists will present themselves to the European Jury who will select a winner, to be awarded in November 2022. The winning destination will be promoted as a sustainable tourism pioneer, receiving expert communication and branding support across the EU to further increase travel to the destination throughout 2023.

Analysed by a panel of independent sustainability experts, 20 destinations applied for the 2023 EDEN initiative. Typically, three destinations are shortlisted and, in 2021, it was Gürsu in Turkey and Middelfart and Thisted in Denmark that made the shortlist, with Middelfart ultimately being announced as the winner. This year, four destinations have been announced for the 2023 award – one more, due to two destinations receiving the same initial score.

The Sustainable Destinations on the EDEN Award 2023 Shortlist

Larnaka, Cyprus

Aerial bird's eye view of Zygi fishing village port, Larnaca, Cyprus. The fish boats moored in the harbour with docked yachts and skyline of the town near Limassol from above.

Situated between the sea and the mountains on the southern coast of Cyprus, Larnaka is focused on delivering year-round sustainable tourism, centred on protecting its coastal beauty. To do this, Larnaka is upgrading its beaches by cleaning the sand and improving the infrastructure on the beachfront, which benefits both the environment and the tourists who flock to the destination for its beaches.

As well as this, Larnaka is improving its maritime and coastal conservations, increasing its renewable energy use, and adding cycle paths to help visitors navigate the city sustainably.

Kranj, Slovenia

Picturesque view of the ancient Slovenian town of Kranj.

Situated in northwest Slovenia, Kranj is the nation’s third largest city. With a rich industrial history, the city has been praised by the EU Commission for discovering its new future fueled by sustainability, powered by a Green Team of 16 institution representatives from across Kranj. 

The Green Team meets regularly to discuss their sustainable strategies, formulate targets, and work together to synergise the eco management of the city. Likewise, the city’s additional project, ‘The Kranj Long Table’, celebrates local gastronomy and produce, measuring its carbon footprint to ensure – and becoming a role model for – sustainable event management.

Trikala, Greece

Panoramic view on Meteora in Trikala, Greece.

Dubbed Greece’s ‘first digital city’, Trikala has a (recent) history of using modern technology to push for a more sustainable future. Situated on the banks of the river Pineios in the northwestern Thessaly region, Trikala is one of the oldest cities in Europe, boasting a variety of attractions, including the UNESCO world heritage site Meteora and hiking trails through the highlands surrounding Trikala.

Combining the old with the new, Trikala was the first city in Europe to integrate driverless electric buses into its infrastructure. Likewise, the Greek city prioritises zero waste venues, regularly measures its carbon footprint, and uses technology to improve experiences of the city, for visitors and residents alike.

Grevena, Greece

Samarina Village in Grevena, Greece. The highest village in the Balcans.

Samarina Village in Grevena (c) Getty

Situated in Western Macedonia in northern Greece, Grevena prides itself on its use of geothermal energy across all of the city’s municipal buildings, energy saving techniques, CO2 emission reduction, and its fight against energy poverty. 

Many visitors travel to Grevena for its mushrooms – it has been declared ‘The City of Mushrooms’ – but the city is also notable for its wild natural beauty of mountains, forests and rivers combined with old stone bridges and churches, National Park of Valia Calda, and the Vasilitsa Ski Centre.

Featured Image: Kranj, Slovenia (via Getty).