Isla – A European Destination Of Excellence For Aquatic Tourism

13 Apr 2010
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NO. 0624

For the 4th year the Malta Tourism Authority has participated in the European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) project. This EU co-funded project, which was developed by the European Commission aims at promoting sustainable tourism models across Europe. This is successfully achieved through the organisation of annual national competitions which are managed by the relevant tourism bodies and backed by the Commission. Each participating country selects one ‘European Destination of Excellence’.

The main objective of this Award is to draw attention to the values, diversity and common features of European tourist destinations. It enhances the visibility of these emerging destinations and creates a platform for sharing good practices across Europe. A special focus is put on those destinations which are less known and which manage their tourism industry in a sustainable way while enhancing both their environmental and traditional socio-cultural aspects.

The competition revolves around a yearly theme- this year being Aquatic Tourism- which targeted coastal localities which have implemented a sustainable aquatic tourism-related project during the last 3 years. Locally, a total of 9 eligible localities applied for this year’s Award, with Isla winning the honour. Isla Local Council presented the Senglea Maritime Festival as their main project. The full-day event, which was held in May of last year aimed at reinforcing Isla’s identity as a maritime city and raise awareness about its historical marine ties.

The festival was centred round re-enactments, marches, tours, exhibitions and other activities offering visitors a unique way to learn about this naval base and its socio-cultural characteristics. The project successfully fulfilled most of the EDEN Specific Award Criteria for various reasons. The highlight of the festival was to promote the socio-cultural values of the locality while at the same time great care was taken to safeguard the environment. The event, which was put up by the Local Council in conjunction with the Parliamentary Secretary for Public Dialogue and Information was a great success, resulting in local businesses reporting a very positive outcome. An Executive Committee was set up exclusively to oversee the organisation of the Festival while a number of NGOs and local organisations were also involved in the activity. It was ensured that the locals take an active role in both the organisation and the participation of this event. In fact there were locals active on the organisational board, some volunteered to put up a re-enactment and local artists actively participated during the Festival. The innovative event was well marketed on various media channels, including The Maritime Festival will be held again on the 5-6th June this year.

The localities of Gharb, Birgu and San Lawrenz in Gozo have also been recognised for their great efforts and achievements in their localities. Together with these localities and previous EDEN winners- Nadur, the hamlet of Santa Lucija in Kercem and Mellieha; Isla will have the opportunity to participate in the EDEN network which is organised by the European Commission.

DOI – 13.04.2010