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Greek Draft Law on Thematic, Special Interest Tourism Up for Discussion

Photo © Maria Theofanopoulou

A draft law covering thematic and special interest tourism based on the guidelines of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), is now open for public consultation on the Greek Tourism Ministry’s website through to June 27, Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura said this week.

The aim is to introduce for the first time in Greece, an overall institutional framework for the definition and development of thematic and special interest tourism products, while setting the groundwork for the creation of related professions and business activities, the minister said.

At the same time, Kountoura noted, the bill – titled “Thematic Tourism and Special Forms of Tourism” – regulates the development of domestic thematic tourism products with the aim to enhance their attractiveness and boost competitiveness, while setting the standards for the further development of other alternative forms of tourism.

Cultural, faith, health and wellness, agro, sports, city and educational tourism are among the tourism forms to be covered by the law. The same regulatory framework also foresees the supervision, classification, registration and certification of all related activities.

Broken down, the 19-article bill defines thematic and special interest tourism by category, details the certification procedures required and sets the terms of operation. More specifically, the draft law outlines the basic principles for tourism which include sustainable development and accessibility.

Skiing in Parnassos

Photo © Maria Theofanopoulou

Areas of focus include sports tourism with emphasis on sports event, active sport and adventure tourism. In this direction, Article 7 foresees the creation of a Recreational / Adventure Tourism Registry which will also be responsible for the issue of certification to ventures offering these tourism services.

The bill also covers winter tourism; outdoor tourism, which includes ecotourism / Green tourism, agrotourism and wine tourism; marine tourism which includes yachting, cruise travel, diving and fishing tourism, diving parks and underwater museums.

Photo © Maria Theofanopoulou

It should be noted that the proposed legal framework includes terms and conditions for the certification of tourism events that have to do with conferences, workshops, forums, seminars and congresses, and of the organizers of such events with the creation of a special registry of venues and organizers.

The same applies for sporting and training events. The ministry will be responsible for the issue of special labels to those included in the registry.

“This is the first legal framework based on UNWTO guidelines so that we can define and identify each of the thematic tourism products and proceed with ministerial decisions based on these standards… It is a comprehensive bill… Once the procedure is completed, it will be tabled in parliament,” Kountoura said last week on the issue.

To view the draft law in Greek press here.

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About the Author
Chicago-born and raised, Maria Paravantes has over two decades of journalistic experience covering tourism and travel, gastronomy, arts, music and culture, economy and finance, politics, health and social issues for international press and media. She has worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine, Time Out Athens, the Athens News, Odyssey Magazine and, among others. She has also served as Special Advisor to Greece’s minister of Foreign Affairs, and to the mayor of Athens on international press and media issues. Maria is currently a reporter, content and features writer for GTP Headlines.
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