Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) President Angela Gerekou on Friday brought to the table the concept of Creative Tourism, a tourism form that showcases the creativity of a destination through local products and handicrafts and gives visitors the opportunity to get involved with the process.
“Creative tourism can be a pathway to develop small-scale and more beneficial tourism models for all tourism forms in which the special features of destinations, cultural sustainability, social inclusion, and the improvement of the local quality of life are highlighted through alternative tourism forms,” Gerekou said during the 14th European Cultural Tourism Network (ECTN) conference in Athens.
Creative Tourism is known for offering visitors the opportunity to develop their creative potential by actively participating in learning experiences connected with the holiday destination where they are undertaken.
“Local products and handicrafts can facilitate a positive city brand for all year round creative tourism,” she said, adding that cyclical activities for tourists can be coordinated with the seasons, while others can be offered according to other time-related arrangements.
Giving an example of traditional products and handicrafts acting as main features to establish a city brand linked to sustainable tourism, the GNTO’s president referred to the promotion of silversmithing in Ioannina and silk production in Soufli.
“These are two of our best Greek success stories,” she said.
“In Soufli, for example, we can easily find workshops on learning how to weave silk, organized participatory gatherings accompanied by shared outdoor meals, and an exhibition about the silk tradition and the women who keep it alive,” she said.
Gerekou underlined that the GNTO promotes many traditional Greek products and handicrafts that determine the contemporary identity of destinations.
Moreover, the GNTO’s president said that for creative tourism to take off in Greek destinations, local communities should be involved in the tourism product without exclusions.
“The GNTO strongly believes in the inclusive involvement of local communities in tourism and at the top of our priority list is bridging culture/heritage with tourism and destination development in small cities and rural areas,” she said.
Gerekou added that cooperation between local stakeholder groups and residents is the best way to establish (a destination’s) identity that is based on a tradition and to protect the future perspectives and the sustainability of the process.
“Traditional products are very important to be promoted and linked to sustainable tourism development especially in smaller cities,” the GNTO’s president said.
Titled ‘Regenerating European Tourism through Culture, Heritage and Creativity’, the 14th ECTN conference discussed the latest trends in the field of culture, heritage and sustainable tourism, including innovation, digitalisation, creativity and cultural tourism product development. The emphasis was on the important role of culture, heritage and creativity in regenerating European tourism, following the Covid-19 pandemic crisis in 2020 and 2021.
The conference was attended by members of ECTN, the European Travel Commission (ETC), representatives of Europa Nostra and European Cultural Routes, the European Association of Archaeologists, UNESCO and NESCTOUR. GNTO President Angela Gerekou participated as a member of the organizing committee.