Gozo has officially entered a bid to be named as the 2026 European Region of Gastronomy to promote the island as a destination for food lovers.

The Gozo Regional Council, which is spearheading the bid, officially signed a formal agreement with the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism in Greece on Thursday, essentially entering the race for the prestigious title.

Gozo does not yet know which other countries or regions it will be competing against, but it must now impress the judges with its traditional dishes, cheeselets, sea salt and pastries, among other delicacies.

The council will also draft a ‘Bid Book’ that will present the characteristics of the region’s gastronomical identity and has called on the public’s feedback and ideas.

The judges will be in Gozo in the next few months to start analysing the island’s culinary identity.

Gozo Regional Council president Samuel Azzopardi said this is an opportunity for Gozo to distinguish itself as a unique tourist destination.

“This project will be a great improvement for Gozo as we will further preserve and elevate the gastronomical identity of the island,” he said.

“For this bid to succeed, it is imperative to have the support of key stakeholders in the region, and I am optimistic that we will work together harmoniously and efficiently towards this shared goal.”

Gozo Regional Council president Samuel Azzopardi (centre) officially submitting Gozo's bid on Thursday. PHOTO: Gozo Regional Council.Gozo Regional Council president Samuel Azzopardi (centre) officially submitting Gozo’s bid on Thursday. PHOTO: Gozo Regional Council.

The council would like to use this opportunity to lay the foundations for the island to develop ‘a sustainable future rooted in cultural and culinary diversity’ and position itself as a candidate for the even bigger title of Best World Region of Gastronomy in 2030.

The initiative was first announced last December and forms part of a recently launched cultural strategy focusing on each of the country’s regions, with Gozo being one of them.

The plan was to focus on a farm-to-fork experience, encompassing all aspects of gastronomic development and connecting historic approaches to contemporary innovation.

Malta’s sister island is well-known for its gastronomy, not least the traditional ġbejna, as well as other delicacies such as its bread, the Gozitan ftira, sea salt from its various salt pans scattered around the island, sundried tomatoes, agricultural produce and other delicacies.

The European Region of Gastronomy Award is granted by a panel of experts at the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism.

It aims to attract visitors to the region and also to raise citizen awareness about the food they eat, the value of local products and the need to innovate in order to protect local produce.

Meanwhile, Gozo is also maing a bid to become the European Capital of Culture in 2031.

Those who wish to give feedback and ideas on Gozo’s bid can contact the Council on regjun-ghawdex.dlg@gov.mt.