Silute, Lithuania, 28 July 2009 - The Nemunas River Delta Regional Park has received the coveted 2009 European Destination of Excellence (EDEN) Award from the European Commission. This year marks the third phase of the European Destinations of Excellence Competition established by the European Union to highlight the value, diversity and shared characteristics of European tourist destinations. Launched by the European Commission in 2006, the EDEN award recognizes places where tourism is managed and supports growth in a socially, culturally and environmentally sustainable way.
While Lithuania will formally be presented with the award in September 2009 at the European Commission in Brussels, the accolade is a huge boost for eco-tourism in the wider Silute region. Lithuania’s capital Vilnius has already rung in 2009 as a European Capital of Culture, so it has been a very special year and putting the country back on the European cultural and tourism map. "This is an invitation to rediscover the region of Silute and its beautiful protected areas”, says Nerijus Gricevicius, Director of the Nemunas River Delta Regional Park.
The Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) project has contributed markedly to this achievement, particularly through its support of eco-tourism, birdwatching opportunities in the Nemunas River Delta and new informative publications highlighting the nature values of and waterbirds found in this unique area. The EDEN award also demonstrates that wetland and waterbird conservation work has direct relevance to eco-tourism and local economic development. “We are very grateful to the entire Wings Over Wetlands project team for its major contribution leading to the 2009 EU EDEN nomination”, says Sarunas Lauzikas, Director of Silute Municpality.
Coinciding with the award, a publication highlighting the cultural and natural heritage of the Nemunas River Delta Regional Park was launched in June 2009 (in Lithuanian and an English summary), with an English version expected later this year.
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