Inaugural EU sustainable and accessible destination winners named

Sustainable Sardinia

Sustainable Sardinia

South Sardinia and Barcelona claimed the top sustainable and accessible tourism prizes at the EU’s first ETIS and Accessible Tourism Awards.

‘Visit South Sardinia’ and Barcelona Province took home the top prizes for sustainability and accessibility last week at the first joint ETIS and Accessible Tourism Awards hosted by the European Commission.

The awards recognise outstanding achievements amongst destinations that took part in a two-year European Tourism Indicators System (ETIS) pilot project. ‘Visit South Sardinia’ was overall winner for sustainability thanks to its innovative approach combining EU and UN sustainability indicators, while Barcelona Province won the top accessibility prize for its ‘Tourism for All’ approach.

Over 100 destinations took part in the ETIS pilot phase to help develop a standardised European approach to measuring and monitoring performance in sustainable and accessible tourism management.

A total of 12 European destinations won prizes for sustainable and accessible tourism management, including their environmental achievements. The jury handed out 1* to 3*** rankings to 10 destinations for sustainability, accessibility, and social impact awards in three categories – overall winners, responsible destination management, and sustainable economic development. Two destinations received a special mention for sustainable and accessible destination management.

Mali Lošinj in Croatia won ETIS Economic Value Achiever for the breadth and depth of insights gathered on sustainable tourism practices on the island, thanks to an impressive set of 130 indicators, going far beyond the 67 ETIS indicators in the 2013 pilot toolkit. Brittany, Destination Brocéliande in France, won ETIS Environmental Impact Achiever for its work developing a green tourism offer in the legendary forest region.

Luigi Cabrini, Chair of the UNWTO’s Global Sustainable Tourism Council and keynote speaker at the ceremony, said, “ETIS is about creating clear standards that help us define what sustainable tourism actually means in a measurable way. These winning destinations have made tourism work for local communities and visitors alike, delivering financial and cultural benefits while minimising negative social and environmental impacts.”

Andalucía in Spain and South Limburg in the Netherlands received special mentions for sustainable destination management and accessibility improvements. Jesús Hernandez-Galán, Director of Universal Accessibility and Innovation at the ONCE Foundation and ETIS jury member said, “Making holidays accessible to all is not just about the independence, dignity, and comfort of people with disabilities, it’s about building a more inclusive and diverse society that benefits and enriches us all. Accessibility indicators make clear what this means in a practical way – from public transport to accessible information – and today’s winners are already reaping the rewards of their hard work in this area.”

Four destinations were awarded 2** as ETIS Social and Cultural Impact Achievers: Dark Sky Alqueva in Portugal for its light pollution free zone and unique ‘night sky’ stargazing offer; Torroella de Montgri-l'Estartit and Llancà in Spain for balancing economic development with sustainable coastal tourism; Ljubljana in Slovenia for its ‘Slovenia Green’ certification label for hotels and tourism spots; and Comunitat Valenciana in Spain for its achievements in improving access for tourists with disabilities.

1* went to two Environmental Impact Achievers, Podgorica in Montenegro for its long-term commitment to sustainable tourism, and Abano Terme in Italy, which combines its reputation as one of Europe’s oldest spa towns with a green tourism approach, attracting visitors that want to alternate from the city-break destination of Venice.

A new 2016 ETIS toolkit was launched at the awards ceremony as a tangible contribution from the European Commission towards the UNWTO International Year of Sustainable Tourism Development in 2017. The new toolkit, which employs 43 core indicators and a set of supplementary indicators, was developed as a result of the pilot phases and is available in all official EU languages to enable European destinations to monitor, measure and improve sustainable tourism practices.

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