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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

The winner of the European Destinations of Excellence 2023 title will be recognised, across the EU, as a pioneer in sustainable tourism: a smaller destination leading in the transition towards greener tourism.

The winner will receive expert communication and branding support in promoting their destination in the media and online. This will include a video highlighting the sustainable practices that helped the town stand out. The EU will also promote the winning destination to raise the town’s profile and boost tourism.

Shortlist announced

We have announced the four shortlisted destinations for the European Destination of Excellence (EDEN) 2023 competition. Grevena (Greece), Kranj (Slovenia), Larnaka (Cyprus), and Trikala (Greece) convinced the panel of independent sustainability experts with their applications and were chosen from among 20 applicant destinations. The shortlist for the 2023 finalists includes four destinations instead of three, as initially mentioned, because the independent panel of sustainability experts awarded two destinations with the same scores.

The shortlisted destinations will present their promotion activities in front of a European Jury, who will select the European Destination of Excellence 2023. 

Evaluation period

The first phase of the EDEN 2023 competition concluded on 1 June 2022. All submitted applications, under the conditions that they are admissible and eligible, will be reviewed in a pre-selection phase (evaluation step1) by a panel of independent sustainable tourism experts. 

For the next step, we will ask the four shortlisted destinations to present their candidature in front of the European Jury. The European Jury will select one winner, the European Destination of Excellence 2023, whom we will award in November 2022.


  • Launch of competition: 31 March 2022
  • Application deadline: 1 June 2022 by 17.00 CET
  • Evaluation period: June – August 2022
  • Announcement of shortlisted finalists: September 2022
  • European jury meeting and announcement of the winner:  November 2022

Eligibility criteria

The competition is open to towns in EU countries and COSME countries, with between 25,000 and 100,000 inhabitants.

Guide for applicants

See the Guide for Applicants for the terms and conditions of the competition. 

Benefits of participating

The 2023 European Destination of Excellence will receive expert communication and branding support, as well as promotional actions from the EU. These will help establish the winning town as a leader in the transition towards greener tourism. 

  • Recognised as a pioneer
    Become a sustainable tourism thought leader and inspire others
  • Put on the map
    Be the place to visit in 2023 and enjoy a boost in tourism
  • Marketing boost
    Win a year of expert communications and branding support for your town as a tourism destination
  • Networking opportunities
    Meet and exchange new ideas with other European destinations, policymakers and industry leaders
  • Media profile
    Benefit from a host of promotional actions from the EU


Can any town apply?

Only towns that are located within the European Union or COSME countries with between 25,000 and 100,000 inhabitants can apply.


Our town is not in the European Union but is on the European continent. Can we still apply?

Only towns located in EU countries or COSME countries are eligible to apply.


Do I have to apply in English?

You may apply in any official language of the European Union. See the list of all eligible languages. To speed up the evaluation process and comparability of applications, we suggest writing and submitting material in English to the extent possible.


We are a school/organisation/company in the town of XY. Can we apply in the name of our town?

If you are not a legal representative of the town applying, you cannot apply in the name of the town. However, you are welcome to participate and help your town with the application and talk to your Mayor/local tourist office, but the signatory of the application should be the Mayor or the highest-ranking town representative, authorised by national law to legally represent the town. (Please see ‘3.2 Eligibility Requirements’ in the Guide for Applicants, p. 5.)


How does a town submit an application?

Visit the online platform and click on ‘Apply now’. You are required to register in the name of your town, then you can start filling in your application. (Please see ‘7. How to Apply: Step by Step’ in the Guide for Applicants, p. 13.)


Once I have started the application process, can I pause and go back to the application a few days later?

Yes, you can save the application and work on it continuously up until the deadline. (Please see ‘7.2.3 Step 3: Editing your proposal’ in the Guide for Applicants, p. 17.)


Can several people work on one application together?

Yes. You can create multiple accounts per destination and work on the application together. A single application by a destination can have multiple co-authors. The person who first creates an account for the destination needs to make sure that the submitting author has allowed co-authors to edit the application. (Please see ‘7.2.1 Step 1: Create your account’ in the Guide for Applicants, p. 14.)


Where can I read about the assessment criteria?

You can read about the assessment criteria on our homepage and in the Guide for Applicants (See ‘4. Assessment criteria’ in the Guide for Applicants p.7.)


Who will decide which town wins?

During evaluation step 1 all submitted and admissible applications will be reviewed against assessment criteria, linked to a clear points-system by a panel of independent experts in the field of sustainable tourism (Please see ‘5. The Evaluation process’ in the Guide for Applicants, p. 10). The three destinations with the highest overall score will be shortlisted as finalists. During evaluation step 2, the shortlisted destinations will be invited to present their candidatures and the programme they intend to implement during the year they will hold the title as the potential 2023 European Destination of Excellence, in front of a European jury, who will take the final decision on the winner. (See ‘5. The evaluation process’ in the Guide for Applicants p. 10.)


What are the benefits for the winning destination?

The winner of the European Destination of Excellence competition will receive a year of expert communication and branding support in promoting their destination to the media and online, a promotional video on their destination and sustainable tourism offer, and many other promotional actions in the name of the initiative that are designed to raise the profile of the destination and boost tourism receipts.


Our town has won an award from the European Union / currently hold an award from the European Union. Can we still apply for the European Destinations of Excellence?

Winners of other European awards are eligible to take part in the European Destinations of Excellence. EDEN winning destinations from previous editions of the EDEN competition are not eligible to compete for European Destination of Excellence 2023 sustainable tourism pioneer. Runner ups of the national former editions are eligible.