The Region of South Aegean on Wednesday officially received the “European Region of Gastronomy 2019” title by an independent jury, during a special ceremony at the Grande Bretagne Hotel in Athens. The second region to receive the title was Sibiu (Romania).
The European Region of Gastronomy award aims to contribute to better quality of life in European regions, by highlighting distinctive food cultures, educating for better health and sustainability and stimulating gastronomic innovation. IGCAT (International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism) organizes the award with the support of European institutions.
Silvia Draghi, European Commission – DG Growth awarded the regions with IGCAT’s President and the President of the jury, Blanca Cros.
Governor George Hadjimarkos said the South Aegean’s European Region of Gastronomy programme is the outcome of a strong collaborative effort thanks to which the region has identified effective strategies to cope with the challenges it is facing today. Winning the title of European Region of Gastronomy 2019 is expected to highlight and give international exposure to the quality food offer of the Aegean islands.
“The project allows to meet the real needs of local people by taking advantage of Greek creativity and provides opportunities for regional growth and reward for primary sector workers and local SMEs offering tourism services”, Hadjimarkos said.
“By means of a holistic approach that involves stakeholders from all sectors and all islands, the South Aegean Taste the Seasons programme is expected to create a renewed relationship with its guests”, he added.
On her part, Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura praised the South Aegean and Sibiu for obtaining the award and identified gastronomy as a powerful competitive edge to capitalise on in order to achieve greater sustainability in tourism by extending the tourist season.
She reconfirmed the tourism ministry’s support to the initiative, which she claimed to have great significance for Greece and its tourism industry as a whole.
During the ceremony and set against a background of moving images from the currently nine European Regions of Gastronomy (for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019), IGCAT’s President, Dr. Diane Dodd illustrated the importance of the European Region of Gastronomy Award as a tool to support development in Europe’s regions and build awareness of the importance of food and cultural diversity for sustainable growth.
The ceremony was attended by distinguished guests including representatives of the European Commission and of the Regions of Italy, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Netherlands, Romania, Latvia and Ireland, which were former holders of the European Region of Gastronomy title.