Gozo (Malta), 20 May 2013 – The Spanish coastal town Baiona in Galicia, and Pafos region (Cyprus) are the winners of the QualityCoast 2013 Gold Awards for sustainable tourism. The Portuguese archipelago of the Azores remains Europe’s best overall “green” tourism destination, like in 2012, when they won QualityCoast Gold. The Awards were presented at European Maritime Day which was celebrated on 20 May in Gozo (Malta), another QualityCoast 2012 Gold winner.
The Portuguese town of Cascais and the German island Norderney are the winners of QualityCoast Silver. All municipalities of the Portuguese West region (including Peniche, Torres Vedras, Obidos, Nazaré) received QualityCoast Bronze. The QualityCoast Nature Award was presented to the Marine National Parks of Kosterhavet (Sweden) and Ytre Hvaler (Norway).
1000 destinations assessed world wide
Candidate destinations have been assessed by an international team making use of more than 100 indicators covering all aspects of sustainability: nature; environment; local identity & culture; tourism & business; host community & safety. The annual QualityCoast Award series is an initiative of the European Coastal & Marine Union (EUCC), that is assessing sustainability aspects of 1000 tourism destinations worldwide.
The award are a recognition for the destinations’ efforts to sustain the attractiveness of their tourism in the future. Not only visible, tangible aspects are measured, such as natural heritage, but also policy and management plans that take sustainable development principles into account. Representatives of award winning destinations are attending the ceremony and they are speakers at European Maritime Day conference in Valetta, Malta, 21-22 May.
The Azores is leading the European green tourism hit list since May 2012. The Azores have profited from its policy to make its local and regional products in a traditional way, especially wine, cheese, fruits, tea and tuna. Azores tuna is captured with traditional poles and lines, in a dolphin friendly manner; it is among the most sustainable canned tuna in the world market. Furthermore, the region has managed to turn the economic drawback due to the international ban on commercial whaling into an opportunity by developing whale watching. The Azores regional authority aims at exploring and optimizing renewable energy, in particular wind, geothermic and biomass. Currently 28% of the energy originates from renewable resources, targeted at 75% in 2018.
QualityCoast is the largest independent international certification programme for sustainable tourism destinations. Since 2007, more than 140 tourism destinations in 23 countries have been selected for a QualityCoast Award: coastal towns, resorts and islands. It is supported by the European Commission.