Western Greece was honoured in a special ceremony in Athens on Monday, where it was awarded the European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) 2016-2017 for its offering of cultural tourism.

The EDEN initiative is organised by the European Commission in a bid to promote tourism to destinations in Europe that are off the beaten track, and to bring attention to the plethora of sites that stand out from the usual hot spots on tourists’ lists.
“The region was awarded for the cultural value of its proposed resources and the exceptional presentation of its nomination,” said the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) in an official statement.

Four other Greek destinations also featured. Receiving an honourable mention were the municipalities of Veria, Dodoni, Larissa and Tinos.

According to data from the World Tourism Organization, tourism for cultural purposes is on the rise, with the annual rate rising from eight to 15 per cent.

While Greece has always attracted tourists interested in the country’s rich history, the notable increase in cultural tourism has in large part been attributed to UNESCO’s decision to include 18 Greek sites in its updated catalogue of world cultural heritage monuments, including the Archaeological site of Olympia, the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae, Delphi, and the Archaeological site of Philippi.