The archipelago of the Azores was once again considered as the best "green" tourist destination in Europe (QualityCoast GOLD).
As in 2012, the prize was awarded at an official ceremony that took place in Malta on Monday, the European Maritime Day.
The "QualityCoast" annual awards are delivered by the "European Coastal & Marine Union" (EUCC), following the evaluation of the sustainability of more than 1000 European destinations.
These destinations were evaluated by an international team that used more than 100 indicators comprising all aspects of sustainability, including nature, environment, local identity and culture, tourism and business, local community and security.
The Azores have led the top list of green tourism since May 2012.
The organisation of the "QualityCoast" awards stresses that the Azores have drawn advantage from their traditional production sectors, such as wine, cheese, fruit, tea and tuna. In addition, the Region has managed to overcome the economic disadvantages caused by the international ban on commercial whaling with the promotion of whale watching.
One should recall that the "QualityCoast" award, supported by the European Commission, is the largest international independent certification programme for sustainable tourism destinations.
Since 2007, more than 140 destinations in 23 countries, including coastal towns, tourist resorts and islands, have been selected for a "QualityCoast" award.
The "QualityCoast" awards acknowledge the efforts undertaken by destinations to preserve and develop tourism, not only in the visible aspects that are assessed, such as natural heritage, but also in the policies and management plans that take into account the principles for sustainable development.
The Portuguese town of Cascais was also one of the winners of the QualityCoast Silver, and all municipalities of the Portuguese West region (including Peniche, Torres Vedras, Obidos, Nazaré) received QualityCoast Bronze.
See here the Quality Coast Brochure 2013
Source: Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) and QualityCoast website.