The 38-year-old centre-half has been let go after one season at the Vitality Stadium but Howe was thrilled with the contribution the former Portsmouth and Everton star made in the south coast club's debut campaign in the Premier League.
"Sylvain was a vital part of our squad throughout the season," Howe told the Bournemouth Echo.
"Going into the Premier League, we felt bringing someone with vast experience and knowledge of the division would be hugely beneficial to our squad and give them someone to lean on.
"Sylvain played that role perfectly, but he also played his part on the pitch and was involved in some pivotal games.
"It was a really good experience for the other players to have worked with him for a year and I would like to thank him for his efforts."
Frenchman Distin, who made 17 appearances for the Cherries, is one of six players who will leave Dean Court next month when his contract expires, joining Stephane Zubar, Josh Carmichael, Josh Wakefield, Mason Walsh and Jon Muleba out the exit door.