EDEN-ESTONIA: Health and wellness tourism”

 "Destination of Excellence 2019. Health and Wellness Tourism" is Pärnumaa!

26. 09.2019, during Estonian Tourism Conference in Haapalu, the “Estonian Destination of Excellence 2019 in Health and Wellness Tourism” was announced – the title belongs to Pärnumaa.

The winner was selected by an international committe from 5 finalists: Haapsalu, Saaremaa, Narva and Narva-Jõesuu, Setomaa. 

The conference brought together almost 400 tourism stakeholders all over Estonia. Within the project EDEN-Estonia 2019, a special wellness tourism related conference module with international speakers was organised. See programme here.


Health and wellness tourism EDEN destinations 2019 in Estonia

Pärnumaa was awarded with title of the Estonian Destination of Excellence 2019 in Health and Wellness Tourism. In the finals there were more 4 runners-up to become the EDEN destinations:  Haapsalu, Saaremaa, Narva and Narva-Jõesuu, Setomaa. All those are historically known resorts with various spas, rich culture and amazing nature.

Pärnu is one of the most versatile travel destinations in Europe. In Pärnu you can find functionalist resort architecture masterpieces, romantic wooden villas, 9 excellent spas and wellness centres, high-class golf tracks, surf centres and a racetrack, two National Parks, and a truly unique Kihnu island a couple of hours by ferry from Pärnu. The latter’s cultural space was accorded UNESCO’s title of Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Pärnu´s attractions are plentiful and diverse, catering to every taste.

*Spa Heaven – Pärnu

Visiting a spa in Pärnu is a must – this is something Pärnu has been well-known and appreciated for almost two centuries. Come and relax: Pärnu Spas are waiting for visitors!

*Rural „SPAs“ – the saunas

Enjoy authentic stove-heated sauna with unforgettable whisking seance and dipping to cold water. Ancient Estonians knew that sweating, whisking and going to a steam sauna energize the healthy and cure the sick.

*Nature experience

Spending time in nature is a soothing experience. Take some time off and enjoy the peaceful sceneries in national parks!

*World class leisure activities and cuisine

First and foremost, Pärnu’s restaurants and cafes stand out for their talented chefs. Besides the fancy a la carte restaurants, reommended by White Guide, you will find many lovely cafes and good pubs all over Pärnumaa. 

Being active is also a significant part of wellbeing. Pärnu has the best place for surfing in Scandinavia for beginners. There are two excellent golf courses. Our race track Auto24ring is considered one of the best in Northern Europe, attracting car enthusiasts all around the world. Pärnu has the best and safest bicycle roads in Estonia. Combine your spa holiday with recreation and we guarantee your well-being!

*Visit cultural and natural sights

The most iconic and extraordinary nature and cultural experiences in Pärnu are Kihnu Island, Soomaa National Park and Matsalu National Park. There are many star examples of functionalist resort architecture in Pärnu when it comes to naming Estonian architectural landmarks – Pärnu Rannahoone, Rannahotell and several other edifices of seafront architecture from the 1930. Ammende Villa is one of the country’s finest examples of early Art Nouveau architecture. The Tallinn Gate is the only 17th century moat gate still extant in the Baltic States.

Soomaa is well-known for having five seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter and high water. Soomaa’s numerous hiking trails can be visited at any time, but it is the flooding period that offers the most indelible impressions. During the flooding period, canoe and kayak enthusiasts can paddle beyond the river channels, right through the forest. There are five large swamps in Soomaa, also known as the capital of Estonian primeval nature. Traditional cultivation of land has turned the banks of the meandering river into diverse river flood-meadows and wooded meadows. It is due to these untouched areas that Soomaa is part of the network of European wilderness.

Matsalu National Park is one of the main destinations among bird watchers travelling in Europe. Tens of thousands of birds stop there annually every sprig and autumn. Altogether, over 270 different species of birds have been spotted in the park, making Matsalu with its numerous species one of Europe’s largest migratory bird parks.

Kihnu cultural space was accorded UNESCO title of Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity for its traditional way of life, customs, folk culture and the island’s natural heritage.

See for more www.visitparnu.com.

Haapsalu is an idyllic seaside resort town, 100 km from Tallinn, a town with historical sites and stories, fun activities, rich event calendar and delicious cuisine. Historically it is known for its healing sea mud, warm sea water and fresh and healing sea air. Because of all that, all of the czars who ruled Russia in the 19th century visited Haapsalu.

*Relax your mind while walking on the seaside.

For centuries doctors in Haapsalu have prescribed breathing fresh sea air to patients. Sea air is good for your lungs, relaxing, and has benefits for mental health. Walk on a promenade and other seaside paths (Haapsalu is surrounded by the sea on three sides). Walking there makes you feel more relaxed, helps you to clear your thoughts and while breathing fresh sea air enjoy the view of Haapsalu Bay. TIP: best time for walks are the sunsets, and you can finish your walk with local food from seaside restaurants! 

*Relax in spas

Spa treatments help to relax mind and body. Iconic treatment for spas in Haapsalu is mud therapy which cures some chronic inflammations and relieves pain, has a biostimulating effect (accelerates metabolism and cell renewal) and removes excess liquids from your body. Haapsalu has two spa hotels. Both offer variety of treatments for your health and wellness.

Come and experience healing effects of the therapeutic mud from Haapsalu bay or just enjoy saunas, massages and other health and beauty treatments!

*Visit events

Come and experience cultural events in Haapsalu. Haapsalu hosts a lot of different events. There is something for everybody! Some offer amazing musical experiences but others, like Yogafestival, offer overall wellbeing with nice workout, best spiritual teachers, healthy food and harmony of destination. You can choose between Italian Wine Party, Haapsalu Tchaikovsky Festival, Haapsalu Early Music Festival, American Beauty Car Show, Rock In Haapsalu, Yogafestival, August Blues Festival, White Lady Festival, Street Food Festival – Haapsalu’s Promenade of Flavours, Nostalgia Days and other fun events.

See for more www.visithaapsalu.com

Saaremaa is a UNESCO Biosphere area where traditions meet innovation and sustainable lifestyle is honoured. Discover cultural heritage of islanders or take a day tour to diverse and preserved nature. Top quality restaurants serving local food and a big variety of spa treatments is a bonus.  But the best thing to do in Saaremaa is to do nothing, just rest. Unpolluted air and water, the smell of junipers and the sounds of the sea are the best stress reducers.

*Saaremaa is a paradise for spa pleasures

The variety of treatments in our spas is truly wide, so there is something for everyone. In Saaremaa we have 8 bigger spas, offering different approach to our quests – enjoyable spa treatments, memorable beauty procedures, active days or relaxing sauna nights. The scenery and nature of Saaremaa is like a mind purifying spa as well.

Saaremaa has the longest resort traditions in Estonia. On the western coast of the island, the country`s first mud baths were opened in 1824. The healing properties of the mineral-rich mud that can be found in the shallow bays here proved to be immensely popular. In the rapidly developing world, the mud baths have also kept improving. Today, there are eight different spa hotels operating on Saaremaa. The healing mud is still here, but it is now accompanied by aromatic oils, various massage techniques and therapies -everything that could be expected from a modern spa hotel.

*Enjoy different types of saunas 

There are more than 25 different saunas in Saaremaa. Grand Rose Spa sauna centre with its oriental interior includes seven design-saunas, among others Saaremaa Juniper Sauna and Birch Sauna. And, of course, the popular aroma sauna and salt sauna are also available. The sauna masters do their best for you to benefit from different sauna rituals. Experience hot rooftop jacuzzi, watching over the old town of Kuressaare in the Johan Spa or experience treatments made with GoSpa’s local organic bodycare products KENA (which means NICE in local islanders’ dialect).

*Explore natural and cultural treasures of Saaremaa

Visit Kuressaare Episcopical Castle or wander around Kaali meteor crater with a lake. Enjoy sunset in Silurian cliff, hike on nature trails and explore the bird kingdom and seals in Vilsandi National Park. Walk trough the sea to small islets or sail with traditional sailing ships like Moonland and Hoppet. Climb to the top of the Sõrve lighthouse and find out, if it could be the edge of the whole world… or is it in Harilaiu peninsula?

*Taste our local top quality food

Local food is marked with quality mark “Ehtne” (it means “genuine local food” in Estonian). Almost all Saaremaa restaurants use local products in their menus. There are 8 restaurants in Saaremaa awarded with Silverspoon award. 

See for more www.visitsaaremaa.ee.

Narva and Narva-Jõesuu – the rich history, architectural monuments on one hand, the unique location on the border of the European Union and Russia on the other, the beautiful natural scenery, proximity to the sea and river, excellent wellness and spa facilities, high-level spa and wellness service, unique health and therapy opportunities.

Explore the gate between the EU and Russia

See it with your own eyes what it is like to live by the border in the easternmost city of the EU and feel the vibe of the city, which for centuries has been the historic border where East meets West.

Let the history of Narva Castle and Victoria bastion bring you centuries back.

Take a tour to Kreenholm Manufacture and listen to the stories of the 19th century.

Be active by joining the numerous unique trails set in the historic Narva river promenade and in reviving Recreation and Sports areas in Äkkeküla and Joaorg.

Relax on the sandy beach, listen to the sound of the sea and birds singing, and enjoy the spa, health and wellness procedures in Narva-Jõesuu. There are many excellent possibilities for health travellers: several spa&medical centres, a sanatorium, rehabilitation services, wellness centres and sauna complexes, recreation areas with sports and leisure facilities. 

See for more www.visitestonia.com/en/where-to-go/north-estonia/narva-narva-joesuu

Setomaa is an excellent destination for tourism because of its health and wellness services, its unique culture, and striking natural setting. This includes the innovative use of local freshwater therapeutic mud and mineral water, a culture that retains elements long lost elsewhere in Europe, everyday life and traditions from hundreds of years ago, and surroundings of low human impact.

Cleanse your body, fill your soul

Setomaa comprises just 1% of Estonian territory, but has a very distinct reputation and unique characteristics. During the visit a guest can enjoy different aspects of what Setomaa has to offer. While in Setomaa one can:

*Visit the Värska Resort Center and enjoy curative mud baths and mineral water treatments. Värska is the only place in the Baltic countries where one can have full body baths in special baths. Approximately 1 ton of mud is used daily. The natural mud it is returned into the lake.  Värska offers three kinds of mineral water, all obtained at a depth of between 470m and 600m. The latter is used for baths and is being tested as a medicine for congestion. 

*Take part in guiding tour around Setomaa‘s many interesting cultural sites, including the mysterious Orthodox chapels (called ‘tsässon’ in the local dialect), ancient sacrificial stones and get to know archaic singing traditions, clothes, cafes and eateries that serve local delicacies. It is also possible to use a Google-based platform and choose the destinations from the so-called Village Belt, a tourism route around Setomaa.

*Take a walk in the forests and bogs – in search of wild mushrooms, berries that everybody can pick in Estonia, or just peace and quiet. Estonia is one of the most densely forested countries in Europe, and the woods here are full of wonderful hiking trails that take you to most diverse landscapes. Setomaa is known for its chanterelle mushrooms especially, considered to be our gold of forests. Our trails for hikers and cyclists are good and not over-crowded, it is also possible to get the help of guides and enjoy an active holiday experience with bog shoes, canoes, bicycles or boats

 Study visit of Estonian EDEN destinations to Czechia

7.-10.01. 2020 Estonian EDEN destinations visited health and wellness tourism destinations in Czechia. The main objective of the visit was to get to know best health and wellness destinations Prague, Karlovy Vary, Marianske Lazne and to learn from the best practices. During the meeting in Estonian Embassy in Prague Estonian ambassador gave an overview of tourism in Czechia. In comparison – there are lot more Estonian visitors going to Czechia than Czech visitors coming to Estonia.  

What should our destinations learn from the Czech experiences? Certainly we should make our resort and health tourism traditions and products more visible and bring them to public space – exhibitions, souvenirs, stories etc. The main target groups for Czechia are from Russia and Germany. Czech medical spas are very popular – average stay in spa is 21 days. How can we attract those target groups from the same markets?

What are we good at? We should be very proud of our hospitality and language skills, quality of our spas and saunas, information and accessibility on site. 

The participants on the study visit were representatives of EDEN destinations  Pärnumaa, Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Haapsalu, Viljandi; Estonian Tourism Board, Ministry of Economics and Communication, Tartu University Pärnu College, Health and Rehability Competence Centre in Haapsalu and West-Estonia Tourism.

 Networking workshop of Estonian EDEN destinations

The EDEN networking workshop took place 9.12.2019 in Pärnu.  During the morning session in Viiking Spa Hotel, the project manager Sille Roomets gave an overview of the EDEN initiative, 2019 contest and EDEN destinations.

The new EDEN destinations Pärnumaa, Saaremaa and Haapsalu presented their destinations and wellness offer.

Heli Tooman and Marit Piirman from University of Tartu Pärnu College introduced health and wellness tourism concept and organised brainstorming to work out new ideas for the destinations.

The afternoon session was dedicated to the new winner of EDEN Health and Wellness Tourism Destination. Best practices of health and wellness tourism, product development and marketing were introduced in Estonia SPA and Resort hotel.

Estonian Destination of Excellence 2019 will be announced at the Tourism Conference in Haapsalu

Estonian Regional Tourism Conference 2019 will be held 26.-27. September 2019 in Haapsalu.  At the conference, the  EDEN Health and Wellness Tourism Destination 2019 of Estonia will be announced.

Tourism will be dedicated to wellness tourism, how to use data on making decisions, destination management and marketing. Within the project “EDEN ESTONIA 2019″  recognized visionary László Puczkó  opens wellness and well-being topic, Kristjan Port from University of Tallinn starts discussion about how our brain knows if we are well and Lina Nosevic from Spa Union of Lithuania introduces the best practices from Lithuania. Kristjan Port from Tallinn University, Sari Sopanen from Pärnu Hedon Spa, Kaia-Kaire Hunt from the Wolf Resource Center, Maret Sukles from Haapsalu’s Fra Mare Spa and Rainer Aavik from Pärnu Town Government will be discussing in the panel “Tourism – a part of wellness or wellness – a part of tourism”.

Estonian EDEN Health and Wellness Tourism Destination 2019 will be announced at award ceremony in the evening of 26. September in Haapsalu kuursaal.

The conference will be moderated by Andres Torm. 

The conference in organised in cooperation of West-Estonia Tourism, Visit EstoniaHaapsalu Town Governmentproject EDEN ESTONIA 2019SA Läänemaa

Estonian Destination of Excellence 2019 finalists revealed 

Altogether 8 destinations applied for “Estonian Destination of excellence 2019. Health and wellness tourism.”: Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Pärnumaa, Haapsalu, Laulasmaa, Setomaa, Narva with Narva-Jõesuu, Peipsimaa.

Estonian national commitee chose five finalists, whose health and wellness offer, destination management and marketing fit the most to the contest criteria: Saaremaa, Pärnumaa, Setomaa, Haapsalu, Narva with Narva-Jõesuu.

The final decision will be given by an international jury and the winner will be announced 26. September 2019 at the Estonian Regional Tourism Conference.

Contest „Estonian Destination of Excellence 2019. Health and wellness tourism”

Applying organisations are eligible if:

  • * They are local authorities with the capacity in managing their destination in a way of ensuring social, cultural and environmental sustainability (with a clear system for involving public, private and community stakeholders in planning and decision making as well as taking good care of necessary public infrastructure),
  • * They are a destination management organisation (NGO), registered according to Estonian law, with clear tasks and capacity in destination management and adopting sustainable tourism practices,
  • * The responsible contact person has is fluent in some foreign language (at least English),
  • * The manpower and financial resources do not depend exclusively on external funds and are based on the perspective of over next two years.
  • Applying destinations are eligible if:

    • * They are emerging, non-traditional and off-the beaten track,
    • * They offer authentic wellness tourism experiences based on the destination´s natural or cultural/historical/spiritual resources,
    • * The specific wellness offer has been implemented for at least for 2 years,
    • * The destination´s promotion and marketing activities are organised around health and well-being tourism,
  • * The tourism infrastructure and services are directed to the experience of wellness,
  • * There are accommodation and catering services easy accessible for tourists.

Deadline of applications  17th of June, 2019 anneli@westestonia.com.

Contact and assistance:
Anneli Haabu, ph +372 527 0660, anneli@westestonia.com
Sille Roomets, project manager, ph +372 5871 6101, sille@westestonia.ee

Contest information
Application form


EDEN initiative

The specific objectives of EDEN initiative are:

  • * Enhance visibility of the emerging European destinations of excellence, especially the lesser known,
  • * Create awareness of Europe´s tourist diversity and quality,
  • * Promote all European countries and regions,
  • * Help decongestion, combat seasonality, rebalance tourist flows toward the non-traditional destinations,
  • * Award sustainable forms of tourism,
  • * Create a platform for the exchange of good practices at European level,
  • * Promote networking between the awarded destinations which could persuade other destinations to adopt sustainable tourism development models,
  • * Trigger a greater support from national tourism organisations at local level and an increase in private sector investment in the destinations,
  • * Prompt a sense of pride of the local community, which will lead to added enthusiasm for further improvement of their sustainable tourism offer.

EDEN coordinator in Estonia is West-Estonia Tourism.

Project EDEN-Estonia 2019

Specific objectives of the project are:

  • * Selecting one destination of excellence and 4 runners-up,
  • * Strengthening the competitiveness of SME-s and destinations by introducing and promoting Estonian wellness destinations,
  • * Activating networking between EDEN destinations,
  • * Raising awareness of the EDEN initiative within Estonian tourism stakeholders,
  • * Raising awareness of the EDEN initiative and EDEN destinations in Estonia.

Project timeline: 01.04.2019 – 31.01.2020.

Project is financed by European Commission Cosme programme, in the amount of 26 000€.

Contact: Sille Roomets, project manager, ph +372 5871 6101, sille(at)westestonia.com

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