The project “European Destinations of ExcelleNce”, abbreviated as EDEN, was designed by the European Commission in line with the European tourism policy guidelines. The objective of the project is to draw attention to the values, diversity and common features of European tourist destinations and to promote those whose key feature is their commitment to social, cultural and environmental sustainability of tourism.
Tourism and Intangible Heritage was the annual theme of the project for which Slovenia, or the Slovenian Tourist Board respectively, applied for the first time. The objective is to highlight the diversity of the rich European intangible heritage and underline the emerging, less-known destinations which through tourism enhance the significance of specific local intangible heritage in a way that yields positive social and economic results and protects natural resources.
Sixteen Slovenian destinations answered the call, among them the Soča Valley with the “Soča Stories” event. The project was prepared by the Local Tourist Board of Bovec and the Walk of Peace Foundation, which was also the organizer of the two-day event. As the applicants to the call acted the municipalities of Bovec, Kobarid and Tolmin.
On the basis of written applications, the following destinations ranked as the first three: the Soča Valley with the “Soča Stories” project; Idrija with the “Idrija Lace Festival” project; and Kranj with the “Prešeren Fair” project. In early April, the three of them presented themselves to the expert commission chaired by Dr. Janez Bogataj. In the evaluation process, the commission chose the Soča Valley as the first destination of excellence in Slovenia. An important contribution to winning was the fact that the applicants had engaged the collaboration of the public, private and civil sectors of the entire Upper Soča Region. The commission’s decision was also related to the proposed theme, namely the project based on the story of World War I and a common European historical basis: the Isonzo Front.
The prize was presented in September 2008 at the European Tourism Forum in the French city of Bordeaux.