DELPHI, GREECE – The Greek Tourism Ministry and Google on Friday announced the launch of a joint educational program aiming to accelerate the sustainable development of small- and medium-sized tourism enterprises (SMEs) in Greece.
The news was announced by Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias and Google EMEA Business and Operations President Matt Brittin during the 7th Delphi Economic Forum that is taking place in Delphi, Central Greece.
The new educational program will run in collaboration with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), which manages global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, and acts as the international accreditation body for sustainable tourism certification.
“Our cooperation with the tourism ministry is based on our broader commitment to support sustainable development in Greece. The [green] transition of small- and medium-sized enterprises is complicated. This is why we support this effort through our products, initiatives and funding opportunities,” Brittin said during the forum.
The new educational program, which will start later in April, is part of the “Grow Greece with Google” initiative.
Its key objectives are the effective communication by companies of their environmental actions; the development of a sustainable strategy; the launch of a sustainability certification; the exploration of funding opportunities; and the promotion of best practices in energy saving, water conservation and waste management.
The program will be available at no cost.
Hoteliers, travelers explore sustainable travel options
The educational program of the tourism ministry, Google and the GSTC comes at a time when hoteliers and travelers are seeking for more sustainable solutions.
According to data by Greece’s Institute for Tourism Research and Forecasts (ITEP), four out of three hotel owners consider sustainable practices key for the future of their enterprise.
Seventy-nine percent have expressed interest in obtaining a sustainability certification, while only 41 percent are satisfied with the level of their sustainability knowhow.
Meanwhile, a Euromonitor survey found that in 2021, over 70 percent of international travelers expressed interest in finding sustainable travel options.
“We need to set sustainable development rules for each area in Greece involving various fields: from infrastructure management, waste and water sources management to the elimination of single-use plastics and the adoption of electric mobility solutions,” Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said during the forum.
1 million dollars in funding by Google.org
During the Delphi Forum, Google also announced that it will provide funding of 1 million dollars from Google.org through the European Social Innovation Fund to support organizations that help social enterprises focusing on sustainability and ecotourism.
Through the selection of projects by one or more beneficiaries, funding from Google.org will ensure that social entrepreneurs from under-represented communities and remote areas of Greece have the opportunity to participate in the creation of effective solutions that will benefit their communities.
Running in Delphi since April 6, the 7th Delphi Economic Forum will conclude on Saturday.