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Greece Looks to Promote its Tourism Villages Through UNWTO Initiative

The Greek Tourism Ministry is looking to propose three of the country’s villages or municipalities to take part in an initiative launched by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) that will recognize and promote the ‘Best Tourism Villages’ of its member states.

The UNWTO recently announced that it is searching for the best examples of rural villages that harness the power of tourism to provide opportunity and safeguard their communities, local traditions and heritage.

The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ initiative will identify villages of member states that take innovative and transformative approaches to tourism in rural areas in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The initiative includes three pillars:

1. The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Label: The label will recognize a village which is an outstanding example of a rural tourism destination with recognized cultural and natural assets, that preserves and promotes rural and community-based values, products and lifestyle and has a clear commitment to innovation and sustainability in all its aspects – economic, social and environmental.

2. The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Upgrade Programme: The upgrade programme will benefit a number of villages that do not fully meet the Label criteria. These villages will receive support from UNWTO and its partners in improving elements of the areas identified as gaps in the evaluation process.

3. The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ Network: The network will provide a space for exchanging experiences and good practices, learnings, and opportunities. It will include representatives of the villages awarded the ‘Best Tourism Village by UNWTO’ label, the villages participating in the upgrade Programme, as well as experts, public and private sector partners engaged in the promotion of tourism for rural development.

UNWTO members states can present up to three villages to be assessed by the initiative.

Greek villages invited to participate

All municipalities of Greece’s regions have been invited to submit a candidacy file to the Tourism Ministry by August 9.

A special working group chaired by Deputy Tourism Minister Sofia Zacharaki will evaluate the candidacies and by the end of August propose three Greek villages or municipalities to the UNWTO.

Through the UNWTO’s initiative the ministry aims to strengthen the role of agritourism in Greece and seeks to advance the role of tourism in valuing and safeguarding rural villages along with their associated landscapes, knowledge systems, biological and cultural diversity, local values and activities, including gastronomy.

“Aiming to develop agritourism in Greece as a special form of tourism, we are participating as a country in the ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’ competition to highlight our destinations and villages that aim to promote a balanced agritourism development model,” Zacharaki said.

The UNWTO will announce all selected villages in October 2021, on the occasion of the 24 session of the organization’s General Assembly (Marrakesh, Morocco).

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