Sveti Martin na Muri is the new national European Destination of Excellence (EDEN) in the field of wellness and wellbeing tourism. This prestigious title, awarded by the European Commission since 2006, Sveti Martin na Muri won in Ilok, a town which together with Vukovar and Vučedol was in 2016/2017 the national EDEN winner for cultural tourism. The ceremony was held at the Odescalchi Castle where in addition to the winning destination, the other four finalists introduced themselves, all of which are famous destinations in the health and wellness tourism – Stubičke Toplice, Daruvar, Tuheljske Toplice and Krapinske Toplice.
"Health tourism has seen the fastest growth in the tourism industry with an annual rate of 15 to 20 percent and strongly influences the creation of year-round tourism. Seven percent of tourists come to Croatia motivated by health reasons, while another eight percent come for the wellness offer, and everyone knows that such guests are good spenders who during their stay spend on average 20 to 30 percent more than the "traditional" tourists. Therefore, I am delighted that the theme of this year's EDEN award was wellness and wellbeing and that the Croatian wellness destinations through this project seized the opportunity to further promote themselves on the European outbound market", said the Director of the Croatian National Tourist Board, Mr. Kristjan Staničić, adding that he would like to extend his sincere congratulations to the representatives of the winner destination Sveti Martin na Muri, as well as to all other finalists.
The winning destination, the EDEN title holder, will be promoted on the official website of the European Commission and of the Croatian National Tourist Board, and according to Slavija Jačan Obratov, the Director of the Sector for the Tourist Boards System and Product Development in the Croatian National Tourist Board, the winner and the finalists will present themselves at the European level and will join the European network of destinations which promote sustainable tourism.
Since the beginning of the project, the Croatian National Tourist Board and the Tourist Boards System in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism have been conducting the EDEN selection process in accordance with the given topics which so far has yielded 9 national EDEN winners and 36 finalists.
The newest winner, the destination of Sveti Martin na Muri, is a well-known wellness destination in the continental tourism. Rudi Grula, head of the Međimurje County Tourist Office, says the local community is very well aware of what sustainable tourism is.
"With the synergy of all stakeholders we achieve competitive advantage which helps Sveti Martin na Muri to stand out among other similar destinations. The Terme Sveti Martin spa brings new trends in the world of wellness and wellbeing through an innovative offer associated with the anthroposophy principles of Rudolf Steiner, biodynamic farming, and a wide range of options for an active vacation", says Grula.
In the wellness industry people are looking for authentic and innovative products, which was emphasized during the panel discussion "Wellness and well-being tourism – do we follow the trends?", held as part of the ceremony. Distinguished Croatian experts and tourist workers – Slavija Jačan Obratov of the CNTB, Ivana Kolar, owner of the company Julius Rose, Izabela Vrtar, editor-in-chief of the magazine Sensa, Marcel Medak, director of Bizovačke Toplice spa, Manuel Magdić, head of the cluster Pannonian Health, have concluded that Croatia has the potential and the resources to develop health and wellness tourism, as shown by this year's finalists of the European Destinations of Excellence. This segment of the tourist offer can be the foundation for the development of non-traditional tourist destinations, such as those that are promoted through the EDEN project.