The European Tourism and Environment Prize was launched, on 15 March 1995, within the framework of the Community action plan in favour of tourism. The aim of the prize, which is open to all Member States of the European Economic Area, is to make European governments and their citizens more aware of the importance of environmental protection to the tourism sector. The award of this new prize is intended to foster the sustainable development of tourism with the aim of promoting the long-term development of a town or region and, in a wider context, a whole country. It is therefore the reward for exemplary efforts to achieve a judicious balance between tourism policies and respect for the environment. The first European Tourism and Environment Prize award ceremony was held, in Brussels, on 22 November 1995, under the patronage of Mr. Christos Papoutsis, Commissioner responsible for tourism. The mediaeval Irish town of Kinsale was selected as winner of the first prize for its success in turning an urban architectural heritage into a tourist attraction. The main field of activity of the "Association for the Development of Kinsale" is town planning. In this regard, it has pursued, since 1977, a policy of consultation with the aim of encouraging expansion and redevelopment, preventing the destruction of the environment and protecting the proportions and structure of the town and its local cachet. Its achievements have included, in particular, the establishment of a town planning documentation service so that new buildings and other features blend into the existing site. The Association also helps to ensure that traffic is streamlined and controlled by improving access roads, constructing new bridges, creating pedestrian precincts in the historic centre and providing parking facilities in every part of the town. The three other finalists for the prize included the Cevennes National Park in France, the Weissensee region in Austria and the Peak District National Park in the United Kingdom. Special awards were also presented to eight other project: - Touristisches Zielgebiet Colbitz-Letzlinger Heide, Germany: special award for active involvement of the population in the planning of tourism projects; - Oscos Eo, Spain: special award for effective involvement and collaboration between public and private sectors; - Paijanne Lake District, Finland: special award for management of natural resources; - British Waterways, UK: special award for management of natural resources; - Historic centre of Corfu and Vido island, Greece: special award for renovation of the architectural heritage; - Veluwe Mobility Plan, The Netherlands: special award for visitor and traffic management; - Açores, Portugal: special award for management of natural resources; - Ponte de Lima, Portugal: special award for renovation of architectural heritage. In order to obtain as wide and as varied a range of applications as possible, the Commission organized competitions, first at national level, and then at European level. Each region could submit its dossiers to a national panel, which then selected three or four of its country's dossiers for presentation to an international selection committee. The concept of the European Tourism and Environment Prize is an element in the Commission's plan of action for the tourism sector. This provides support for exemplary projects for the development of sustainable tourism which respects the natural and cultural environment on which it depends.
Austria, Germany, Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal