The Kaunertal valley in Austria is a land of contrasts that reflect the continuous changing of the seasons. The Kaunertal glacier scenic road winds through snowy forests and ends in eternal ice. The dense greenery, babbling streams and fragrant pastures have all been made accessible to visitors with disabilities. This is why the Kauternal Valley is the last winner of EDEN Austria, whose theme was tourism and accessibility.
The European Destinations of Excellence (european destinations of excellence) (EDEN) were launched in 2006 to showcase the emerging tourist destinations in 27 countries of the European Union. Each year the European Commission chooses a theme and a destination is selected in each participating country.
In 2011, prizes were awarded EDEN destinations that had converted a local heritage site into a tourist attraction. In Ireland, a disused railway line was converted into a bike path, the Great Western Greenway. A bicycle-friendly destination, it allows cyclists to follow it to tour Atlantic Drive & Achill Secret Garden, as the public garden to the west of Ireland.
The themes of EDEN allow to demonstrate the richness and diversity of European tourist offer, including its natural resources, historical heritage, traditional festivals and local cuisine. The winning destinations offer an ancestral landscape or stories of their cultural past while meeting the criteria of the theme for the year.
In 2008, the winning destinations have argued that they had preserved traditions. In Greece, the prefecture of Grevena has 13 stone bridges dating from the Ottoman Empire. Vines, Tsipouro (traditional liquor) and good wine abundant draw visitors to the village of Trikomo. The famous street festival Anakatosaria dances and traditional songs. Local specialties include mushrooms, meats and organic cheeses.
Although the theme changes from year to year, judges are always looking to reward places whose tourism development initiatives involve the local community and favor conservation. The protected areas of Őrség National Park, the e Hungarian 2007 winner ensure the preservation of natural treasures, cultural, historical and ethnographic, including traditional houses, belfries, Romanesque churches and an ethnographic museum in the open air.
Eligible destinations, especially the lesser known, can be proud of their original proposals. In these places, the environment and residents have found a way to offer travelers great experiences of sustainable travel. Visit a certified site EDEN Europe and discover Europe as it really was, as it is, and as it will be.