The European Route of Historic Thermal Towns is one of over 38 routes certified by the Council of Europe, all based on themes which are important to the cultural heritage of Europe.
The Cultural Routes Programme was launched by the Council of Europe in 1987 with the Route of Santiago de Compostela, perhaps Europe’s most famous pilgrim route, chosen as a symbol of European unification and identity, built, as Europe was, “on a shared history of exchanges and encounters between people with different backgrounds, nationalities and beliefs”. Since then, linear paths and themed networks have joined the Programme - over 3 decades promoting values through culture, contributing to cultural tourism and economic development.
The Institute of Cultural Routes, based in Luxembourg, describes the Cultural Routes as "Grassroots networks promoting the principles which underlie all the work and values of the Council of Europe: human rights, cultural democracy, cultural diversity, mutual understanding and exchanges across boundaries. They act as channels for intercultural dialogue and promot e a better knowledge and understanding of Europe"
The Cultural Routes preserve and enhance Europe's natural and cultural heritage as a factor for improving the living environment, acting as a source of cultural, social and economic sustainable development. In enriches the tourism sector with new products based on cultural and heriatge tourism, bringing new jobs and having an impacts on SMEs and innovation. It also helps to tackle seasonalitiy in tourism,and to facilitate education and learning , as well as promoting and preserving cultural identitities.
The certified Cultural Routes are re-evaluated every three years.
In 2010 the European Route of Historic Thermal Towns was officially approved as a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe, in accordance with Resolution CM/Res (2007)12. Granting that certification, this supranational institution acknowledged the value and singularity of Europe's thermal tradition and its contribution to the continent's history and identity. Since then, the EHTTA has been managed this permanent European network, committed to encourage the integrated development of spa towns and safeguard their heritage.
Being a part of the Council of Europe’s Cultural Route Programme is extremely important to EHTTA and its members, as it allows access to shared experience with almost 40 other European thematic cultural routes, and gives a platform from which to apply for sources of funding.