The "European Destinations of ExcelleNce" (EDEN) project, was started by the European Commission in accordance with European tourism policy guidelines. The aim of the project is to promote sustainable tourism development models across the European Union; that is to draw attention to the value, diversity and shared characteristics of European tourist destinations and to promote destinations where economic growth is pursued in such a way as to ensure social, cultural and environmental sustainability.
The project is financed under the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) which aims to encourage the competitiveness of European enterprises.
The project is based on national competitions that take place every second year and result in the selection of a tourist “destination of excellence” for each participating country. Through the selection of destinations, EDEN effectively achieves the objective of drawing attention to the values, diversity and common features of European tourist destinations. It enhances the visibility of emerging European destinations, creates a platform for sharing good practices across Europe and promotes networking between awarded destinations.
This European quest for excellence in tourism is developed around an annual theme, chosen by the Commission together with the relevant national tourism bodies. This theme functions as a leitmotif: so far, rural tourism, intangible heritage, protected areas, aqatic tourism and regeneration of physical sites have been the main EDEN themes. In 2013 the theme is Accesible Toruism.
The key feature of the selected destinations is their commitment to social, cultural and environmental sustainability. The recipients of the award are emerging, little known European destinations located in the 27 Member States and candidate countries. The EDEN project helps to spread the sustainable practices used in the chosen destinations across the Union and to turn these places into all-year-round venues. The process thus aims to help de-congest over-visited tourist destinations.
In 2012 Slovenia is taking part in EDEN project, for the 5th time in a row. Instead of selecting new European destinations of excellence, this year’s EDEN project concentrates on promotion of already chosen destinations and of project itself.
Each year since 2006, European Commission awards the participating member states in EDEN project, with the European destinations of excellence title. Slovenia has been an EDEN project partner since 2008.