The Region of Western Greece was honored with the European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) 2016-2017 award for its cultural tourism, during a special ceremony held on Monday in Athens.

The competition is organized by the European Commission in order to promote new tourist destinations. The EDEN program is a European Commission initiative, aiming at the emergence of new tourist destinations that are non-traditional and un-developed touristically and based on their commitment to social, cultural and environmental sustainability.

“The region was awarded for the cultural value of its proposed resources and the exceptional presentation of its nomination,” the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) said in an official press release. Four additional Greek destinations, namely the municipalities of Veria, Dodoni, Larissa and Tinos received an honorable mention.

According to the data provided by the World Tourism Organization, the domain of cultural tourism is growing rapidly at an annual rate from 8% to 15% of mass tourism.

The rise of cultural tourism in our country is also due to UNESCO’s decision to include in its renewed catalog of monuments of world cultural heritage, 18 Greek sites: the Temple of Apollo Epicurius, Delphi, the archaeological site of Philippi, Delos as well as Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments throughout the country.