For this year's main topic of the selection of the European Destination of Excellence (EDEN), the European Commission chose "Well-being Tourism". Both of this year's finalists, Dolenjska and Podcetrtek, come from eastern Slovenia. The expert panel chose Podcetrtek to be the winner and thus the holder of the title of EDEN 2019. EDEN is the biggest European platform for the promotion of sustainable and responsible tourism. The Slovenian Tourist Board (STO) collaborates on this project mainly in line with the orientation of supporting destinations and products focusing on sustainable development.
Of the two finalists in this year's selection, the expert panel chaired by Professor Janez Bogataj was most impressed by the destination of Podcetrtek. STO Director Maja Pak said: "The destination of Podcetrtek impressed the expert panel by putting together a range of tourism products and services based on the authentic, high-quality and local services of three municipalities, innovatively packaged into a wellness experience, thus becoming the eighth holder of the EDEN title. With the EDEN project, the European Commission awards destinations focusing on the development of sustainable tourism; this is why STO has been collaborating on the project all these years. EDEN destinations are particularly recognised for their sustainable development efforts by highlighting smaller but no less beautiful places, thus contributing to flow diversification, and communicating authentic and unique five-star experiences in our country."
In the decision of the expert panel, Professor Janez Bogataj wrote: "Podcetrtek is a typical example of the so-called microscale tourism industry, which is strongly connected to Terme Olimia. The applicants' presentation before the expert panel also included the Municipality of Kozje, which is related to the biosphere area and the Kozjansko Apple Festival. Podcetrtek also offers some traditional products and locations, such as the Amon homestead, the deer farm, the chocolate shop, pharmacy and monastery in Olimje, calling attention to breakfast at the Amon homestead, which can be considered a textbook breakfast example at the two hotels in Podcetrtek. Of course, well-being is not just about food but the entire tour package that the expert panel evaluated in the light of this year's topic."
The destination of Dolenjska was the runner-up. Professor Bogataj said: "In terms of what it has to offer, Dolenjska has excellent potential in Slovenia's tourism development. They are building their development on the appropriate number of young staff members with a very clear idea of the tourism development strategy." The destination of Podcetrtek is a good practice example of a successful and efficient collaboration between three municipalities in Slovenian tourism, as well as a good practice example in terms of collaboration between stakeholders' part of the destination of Podcetrtek.
On this occasion, the mayor of Podcetrtek Peter Misja, the mayor of Bistrica ob Sotli Franjo Debelak and the mayor of Kozje Milenca Krajnc said: "The destination of Podcetrtek is a textbook example of tourism collaboration between municipalities. With the Municipality of Podcetrtek's highly-developed range of tourist products and services and the hidden, yet a high-quality range of tourist products and services in the municipalities of Bistrica ob Sotli and Kozje, we have become a destination that offers tourists an active and healthy stay, so they achieve personal satisfaction and inner peace. Our range is based on nature and culture, encompassing locally produced goods and services. It is excellent, professional, traditional, and has a touch of homeliness, which allows for good symbiosis between the local population and tourists. The title of the European Destination of Excellence 2019 fills us with joy and new energy to continue our work and is proof that we are on the right development track."
The destination of Podcetrtek devotes attention to sustainable development, as attested by the golden Slovenia Green label obtained by the destination as part of the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism.
Both finalists, Podcetrtek and Dolenjska, will receive intensive promotion by STO. As of this year, the European family of more than 140 destinations of excellence now includes eight Slovenian representatives: Podcetrtek, Koper, Brda, Laško, Idrija, Kolpa, Solcavsko and the Soca Valley.
EDEN 2019 award ceremony in Podcetrtek will be held on 6 September.