Resplendent and hidden locations in Europe, whose unassuming and quiet nature keeps them away from the mass tourism flows, should be revealed to the world by slightly opening their doors, which keep secrets, legends, tradition, unspoiled nature and a natural balance among people living in harmony with nature, while adhering to the principles of sustainable tourism. Since 2006, all this has been encompassed by the EDEN (European Destination of Excellence) project, which has been envisioned by the European Commission as a story of unique and non-traditional European tourist destinations that develop tourism by using local resources.
Each year, EDEN’s themes are devised in a way that displays the diversity offered by small and lesser known European destinations, including beautiful nature, their history and heritage, traditional events and the local gastronomy. The rules of EDEN stipulate that these must always be tourist areas that are not widely known, typical or developed in terms of tourism and yet are preserved and pristine in their beauty, providing tourism options all year round. And that Croatia boasts such secluded gems that need to be showcased to the world as examples of authenticity and preserved nature, was evident as early as 2006, when EDEN was implemented in our country by the Croatian National Tourist Board in cooperation with the network of local tourist boards and the Ministry of Tourism.
The European Destination of Excellence in Croatia is selected through a tender and has a different theme every two years that pertains to specific types of tourism. In addition to the winner, four other finalist destinations are selected. This is an opportunity for promoting hidden tourist oases on the official websites of the European Commission and the Croatian National Tourist Board as examples of good practice and new destinations for modern, aware tourists and passengers who are precisely looking for authentic and original destinations that both take care of the environment as well as preserve cultural heritage and tradition.
So far, Croatia has picked a total of nine national EDEN winners and 36 finalists in the following themes: Rural Tourism, Tourism and Local Intangible Heritage, Tourism and Protected Areas, Aquatic Tourism, Tourism and Regeneration of Physical Sites, Accessible Tourism, Tourism and Local Gastronomy, Cultural Tourism and Wellness & Well-being Tourism.