Including Greece in the Eurovelo network of EU-wide, long-distance cycling routes, raising awareness on the use of bicycles as an environmentally friendly mode of transport, and locating the funding to create cycling routes in urban centers, are the top priorities of the Environment Ministry’s strategy for the development of cycling tourism presented this week.
Speaking within the framework of MEDCYCLETOUR’s “Mediterranean Cycling Routes”, organized by the Regional Development Fund of Western Greece, Efthimios Bakogiannis, secretary general for regional planning and urban environment, referred to the ministry’s bike-friendly policies for the promotion of sustainable and responsible tourism.
“The benefits of promoting and supporting cycling tourism are manifold and directly reflected in the empowerment of local communities. Economic, social, and environmental benefits at a time when European cycling tourism alone is valued at 2.8 billion euros annually in terms of travel and 25.6 million overnight stays, accounting for approximately 3 percent of all trips made by European travelers,” explained Bakogiannis.
Other priorities for Greece according to Bakogiannis are transforming abandoned railways into bike paths; requiring tourism development organizations countrywide to promote cycling and walking routes, organize cycling events, as well as incorporate “training paths” into cycling tourism packages; creating a certified network of “Bike Friendly” businesses; developing and promoting mountain bike trails and establishing bike parks; and introducing “cyclist tour guides”, as well as legally providing for the transport of bikes free of charge on public intercity transport.
Meanwhile, on February 19, the Croatian Presidency of the EU Council and the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) will be holding a workshop in Brussels, bringing together policy makers to discuss cycling tourism in the Mediterranean area, ways to fund cycling tourism and develop it further, as well as its contribution to the European Green Deal.