The EU tourism industry generates more than 5% of the EU GDP, with about 1.8 million businesses employing over 5% of the total labour force or about 9.7 million jobs. When related sectors are taken into account, the estimated contribution of tourism to GDP creation is much higher and tourism indirectly generates more than 10% of the European Union’s GDP and provides about 12% of the labour force.
Europe remains the world’s number one tourist destination and can boast of a rich and colourful history with diverse regions and cultures. Sustainable tourism should and can play a major role in a region’s local economy. The growth of an area leads to more jobs and helps raise the local population’s quality of life, in view of the direct, indirect and induced effects on the economy. It is essential that proper investment in tourism growth has the people’s best interests in mind.
The European Commission has launched the European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) Award with the aim of selecting specific destinations that value economic, environmental and social sustainability. Every year, EU Member States, Candidate and EFTA Countries participate in EDEN to showcase a selection of the best non-traditional destinations. Each nominated destination has to be sustainable in terms of preserving the local environment, culture and social fabric of the destination.
The European Commission annually chooses a theme along with the National Tourism Authorities to inspire travel to these destinations. During 2010 there was a focus on aquatic themes and 25 countries participated promoting innovative approaches for their aquatic tourism offers in coastal, lake and riverside tourism destinations. The competition in 2011 was centered on – Tourism and Regeneration of Physical sites
This year, the EDEN Award Ceremony for winning destinations was held in Brussels in September, on European Tourism Day. It is expected that in 2011, with the fifth edition of the EDEN project, the overall number of awarded European Destinations of Excellence will rise to around 100.
For further information on the EDEN project and previous recipients of the awards see http://ec.europa.eu/eden