Gürsu, a town in Turkey’s northwestern Bursa province, was shortlisted for the European Destination of Excellence (EDEN) 2022 competition.
The list also includes two Danish cities, Middelfart and Thisted.
The EDEN comprises regular competitions to select an emerging “destination of excellence” based on the commitment to social, cultural and environmental sustainability.
The cities convinced the panel of independent sustainability experts with their applications and were chosen ahead of 40 other applicant destinations. The winner of the 2022 award will be selected from this shortlist of three.
The EDEN is a European Union initiative, implemented by the European Commission. Its aim is to recognize and reward smaller destinations that have in place successful strategies to boost sustainable tourism through green transition practices. The competition is founded upon the principle of promoting the development of sustainable tourism in destinations that brings value to the economy, the planet and the people. The initiative covers EU countries as well non-EU countries participating in the COSME program. The competition addresses smaller tourism destinations that can showcase their outstanding achievements in sustainability and inspire other tourism destinations in their green transition.
In order to compete for the 2022 European Destination of Excellence title, destinations were asked to demonstrate their best practices in sustainable tourism and green transition. In the next step, the three shortlisted destinations will be asked to present their town’s candidature in front of the European Jury. The European Jury will select one winner, the European Destination of Excellence 2022, which will be awarded in November 2021.
The winning destination will be positioned as a tourism sustainability pioneer committed to the European Green Deal objectives and will receive expert communication and branding support at the EU level throughout 2022.
Situated in the beautiful north of Denmark, surrounded by the National Park Thy and the famous Limfjord sits the town of Thisted. With a population of 13,000, Thisted is the administrative and political center of the municipality of Thisted in the northwest of Jutland.
The city and municipality of Gürsu are situated in Turkey’s Bursa province, just south of Istanbul. With a population of 96,000, Gürsu is poised to show the positive impacts sustainable tourism can have on a larger population.
Gürsu has a proven track record of impactful green and sustainable practices from environmental measures to social and tourism projects with strong investment and efforts to reduce the ecological footprint. These have not only improved agricultural practices but enhanced the tourism experience.
Linking Jutland and Funen, the town of Middelfart with a population of 15,000 stands as a proud historic link between two of the many islands of Denmark. Situated on the banks of the Little Belt, Middelfart remains a historic and culturally important destination in Denmark and Europe.
European Capital of Smart Tourism title
Meanwhile, yesterday the European Commission also announced the seven shortlisted cities for the European Capital of Smart Tourism 2022 competition.
The list includes Bordeaux (France), Copenhagen (Denmark), Dublin (Ireland), Florence (Italy), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Palma (Spain) and Valencia (Spain). The finalist cities were selected from a total of 30 applications from across 16 countries.
The European Capital of Smart Tourism is an EU initiative, currently financed under the COSME Programme. It is built on the successful experience of the Preparatory Action proposed by the European Parliament and implemented by the European Commission in 2019 and 2020. It aims to promote smart tourism in the EU, foster innovative, sustainable, and inclusive tourism development, as well as spread and facilitate the exchange of best practices. This EU initiative recognizes outstanding achievements by cities as tourism destinations in four categories: Accessibility, Sustainability, Digitalisation as well as Cultural Heritage and Creativity. The competition was open to cities across both the EU, as well as the non-EU countries that take part in the COSME program.
The two winning cities will benefit from communication and branding support throughout 2022. This will include a promotional video, a purpose-built hashtag sculpture to install in a prominent location, diverse promotional activities and visibility at the EU level.
The winning cities will be awarded in November 2021.