In 2012, for the fifth year in a row, the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB) is participating in the European Destinations of ExcelleNce (EDEN) project, one of the STB’s key strategic projects, through which, with the help of funding from the European Union, Slovenian destinations are encouraged to engage in the sustainable development of green tourism. Slovenia has participated in the project since the beginning and prides itself on four EDEN destinations; moreover, a new theme of excellence has already been applied for 2013.
The aim of the project is to promote sustainable tourism development models across the European Union and to showcase what Europe has to offer; unique destinations that, until now, have been relatively undiscovered. The key feature of the selected destinations is their commitment to social, cultural and environmental sustainability.
The project is especially important in Slovenia, since, with its new actual development strategy for Slovenian tourism, it has committed itself towards sustainable development of tourism. The project represents a priceless platform for the development of sustainable tourism practices at the level of destinations as well as for their promotion and exchange of experiences inside the EDEN network. Moreover, a higher demand of tourists for such destinations has recently been recorded in Slovenia.
The project is based on national competitions that take place every year and result in the selection of a tourist `destination of excellence` for each participating country. This European quest for excellence in tourism is developed around an annual theme. So far, rural tourism, intangible heritage, protected areas, aquatic tourism and regeneration of physical sites have been the main EDEN themes. In previous years, four destinations of excellence have been chosen in Slovenia: in 2008 The Soča Valley, in 2009 the Solčavsko Region, in 2010 The River Kolpa and in 2011 Idrija.
The European Commission has, along with the Member States and candidate countries, already selected the excellence theme for 2013 and published a new EDEN 2012/13 tender. The theme for this year`s call is `Accessible tourism`. It is proposed to reward those destinations that have developed a tourism offer based on an overall approach to accessibility for tourists regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities or age.
The STB has already applied to the tender and if the project is approved for Slovenia, the Slovenian Tourist Board will begin with its selection activities at the national level at the end of 2012.