Sheep’s Head Announced as European Destination of Excellence 2009

sheepshead1 Fáilte Ireland has announced the Irish winner of their “European Destination of Excellence” (EDEN) competition which is held in 22 European States. Sheep’s Head in Bantry has been awarded the title of European Destination of Excellence – Tourism and Protected Areas. The competition is funded and organised by Fáilte Ireland with support from the European Union.

The competition was designed for destinations that have developed the tourism potential of their protected areas in a sustainable manner. Sheep’s Head faced stiff competition from the other four finalists – Ballyhoura in Counties Limerick and Cork, Slieve League in South Donegal, Erris in North West Mayo and the Greenbox in the North West (including Leitrim, parts of Cavan, Sligo, Donegal and Monaghan).

The adjudicators were particularly impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of the local groups and the variety of protected areas that were promoted. Mary Stack, Environment Officer at Fáilte Ireland believes that the Sheep’s Head is a worthy winner –

“The community knowledge, promotion and upholding of their local area was considered outstanding, and in the end led to success for Sheep’s Head in this competition.
“An inextricable link between tourism and the protected areas was demonstrated during the site visit to the Peninsula, and it is obvious that tourism has been developed both upon and with full consideration of the sensitivities of these protected areas. The local natural assets of the area have been preserved an integral part of local tourism.”

The Sheep’s Head Peninsula is located in West Cork and offers a long distance walking route including the Sheep’s Head Way, which traverses a number of protected areas such as Special Protection Areas, which are protected for birdlife. It also has a wealth of wildlife habitats many of which are protected as candidate Special Areas of Conservation, and offers visitors loop walks, coastal, hill top, cliff side and river walks, angling, cycling, local food produce and much more.

As this year’s winner, the tourism destination will receive an additional boost to their ongoing effort to attract visitors. Sheep’s Head will be the subject of a specially commissioned photo shoot and the local committee will receive €5,000 for business development support initiatives as well as a certificate of achievement from Fáilte Ireland. In addition, the EU will provide international promotion of Sheep’s Head, e-marketing opportunities and participation in an EU network of European Destinations of Excellence which will also raise the profile of the destination.

A national awards ceremony will be held by Fáilte Ireland during June where Sheep’s Head will be formally presented with their award.

EDEN is an EU-wide competition with two main aims. Firstly, it highlights the value, diversity and shared characteristics of European tourist destinations, and secondly, promotes destinations where the economic growth objective is pursued in such a way as to ensure the social, cultural and environmental sustainability of tourism.

For further information please contact:
Paddy Mathews – Project Manager – EDEN
087 7979244
Gillian Burke – Project Administrator – EDEN
01 6024 225 Eden.helpdesk@failteireland.ie

The EDEN Project is receiving funding from the European Commission. See further information in the weblink below:
www.edenineurope.eu

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