The European Region of Gastronomy Platform welcomes Saimaa Region!

Saimaa Region (Finland) officially joined the European Region of Gastronomy Platform with the intention to bid for the European Region of Gastronomy 2024 title. A protocol agreement was signed between Saimaa Region and IGCAT on 30 November 2021 during the 23rd European Region of Gastronomy Platform meeting.

Teija Rautiainen from the University of Applied Sciences of South-East Finland, one of the founding stakeholders of Saimaa Region’s bid for the title, physically represented the region at the meeting, while Pentti Mäkinen from the South Savo Regional Council, Antti Toivanen from the North Karelia Chamber of Commerce and Maisa Häkkinen from the Lake Saimaa association connected online at the time of the signature.

By joining the European Region of Gastronomy Platform, Saimaa Region committed to develop a long-term strategy for sustainable development by working across sectors and in collaboration with the other member regions.

According to President of IGCAT, Diane Dodd, PhD “the European Region of Gastronomy programme aims to empower communities, support biodiversity, safeguard intangible heritage and innovate to ensure that foods, recipes and cultural traditions stay alive and continue to enrich our shared world.

“Through strengthening the creative potential of people in regions across the globe our underlining principles are to achieve access to healthy food and foster an active cultural life for everyone’s well-being, as well as support economic growth and environmental sustainability.”

About Saimaa Region 

Saimaa Region is one of Finland`s treasures – enchanting Lake Saimaa and the pure nature surrounding it in the Eastern parts of Finland. The largest lake in Finland is loved by many, several million guests visit the Saimaa region annually. Its sparkling waters and many bridges connect shores, towns, villages, and people. The Saimaa region offers a unique meeting place for both locals and visitors. People who come here will enjoy the clean nature of the lake, the peace, the local food made from clean and local ingredients, and the uncomplicated interaction.

According to Saimaa Region´s bid book project team leader Sari Kaasinen, this is a great opportunity to introduce the region´s unique nature, food, and culture to a wider European audience.

“By being part of the European Region of Gastronomy Platform, we are heading towards our vision: Saimaa Region will become an inspiring, well-known, and forefront food and culture destination in the post-pandemic world. Especially, we want to introduce our four dramatic and beautiful four seasons and our way of life which combines the culture and food in an inspiring way.”

About the European Regions of Gastronomy Platform

All regions that bid for the European Region of Gastronomy title become part of a knowledge exchange Platform; collaborate on international projects designed to gain global visibility in celebration of their unique food and culture; and benefit from increased cohesion across their communities.

Candidate and awarded European Regions of Gastronomy, guided by IGCAT, are working together to: strengthen food security through the celebration of distinctive food cultures; create employment by stimulating creativity and gastronomic innovation; nourish children and adults through culinary and cultural education; drive environmental sustainability in tourism, hospitality and agricultural sectors; support balance and sustainable tourism practices; highlight and support expertise from within rural and urban communities, creating connections and sharing good practises; and contribute to community health and well-being.

About the European Regions of Gastronomy Award

The European Region of Gastronomy title is awarded by IGCAT each year as a stimulus to link food, hospitality, tourism, culture, health and sustainability. It also serves to support economic, cultural, social and environmental development as part of a long-term regional strategy.

Regions that opt for the title commit to developing actions and projects in six main focus areas: Feeding the planet; Innovation, creativity and job opportunities; Educating for our future; Balanced and sustainable tourism; Linking urban and rural; Well-being and healthier living

The Award began in 2016 and in just five years has received international acclaim from travel guides (Lonely Planet, Traveller, National Geographic, Rough Guide etc.), airline magazines, intergovernmental conferences and global events, as well as respected newspapers (New York Times, FT, Observer etc.) and many national news broadcasting channels.


IGCAT aims to empower local communities by raising awareness of the importance to protect and promote distinct regional food, culture, arts and natural assets as part of sustainable and balanced tourism and development strategies. This is essential to safeguard our planet, health, wellness and local economies.

IGCAT is a non-profit institute established in 2012, working with regional stakeholder consortiums in the fields of gastronomy, culture, arts and tourism. It counts on the expertise of a worldwide network of experts and works in partnership with specialised intergovernmental organisations.

IGCAT founded the European and the World Region of Gastronomy Award and is the official secretariat for the European and World Regions of Gastronomy Platform. Furthermore, the Institute has developed the European Young Chef Award, the European Food Gift Challenge, the Top Websites for Foodie Travelers and the Food Film Menu.