Have you ever sat at your desk during a busy work day and felt your mind drift off to another place? That special spot on Monday was a beach some-where in the Mediterranean. A few days later your mind ventured to a castle on top of a hillside. The experience was so vivid that you could almost smell the fresh mountain air.
Each day the clock ticks and you yearn for a holiday free of the hustle and bustle of city life. You want a destination that is known for its local charm, its beautiful landscapes and fascinating history. A place where the locals respect their land and will do anything to protect it from harm.
Sounds like a dream, right? Well, in Europe, the possibilities are endless. The European Commission launched the European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) a few years back with the aim of selecting special places "off the beaten path" that value economic, environmental and social sustainability. The 73 places chosen so far all represent Europe in a fitting manner.
Europe is a continent of great history and lands. The continent's mystique draws tourists from around the world in search of adventure, paradise and culture. While there are many wonderful destinations in Europe, the truth is, many of them have lost their allure due to expansive tourism and a lack of regard for the environment. No longer can a region's name alone be enough to draw visitors to their majestic mountains or pristine beaches. There must be more and the European Commission has devoted numerous resources to instill the mind-set of sustainable tourism in its regions.
Sustainable tourism is a practice that must run deep in the values of the local people. Whenever new accommodation is built and man-made changes are made to the landscape, eco-friendly and environmental measures must be followed. A constant respect for nature is needed to ensure that today's creatures and eco-systems are still around in the distant future.
Sustainable tourism also plays a major role in a region's local economy. The growth of an area leads to more jobs and helps raise the quality of living in a region.
The local people also take advantage of visitors eating at their restaurants, shopping at their markets and staying at their hotels. It is essential that proper investment in tourism growth has the people's best interests in mind.
The next time you go on a memorable holiday to the countryside and enjoy a bottle of the Earth's precious wine, take notice of the land and its people.
These 73 selected EDEN "hidden gems" all have done their part in making their region a wonderful and memorable place to visit.
Now it's up to you to decide which adventure you want to seek!
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