The Greek Tourism Ministry is rolling out an ambitious sustainability tourism plan that will involve popular destinations such as Mykonos and Santorini in its aim to tackle overtourism, preserve Greek destinations, provide development and employment opportunities.
The plan was analyzed by Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias during the recent 7th Delphi Economic Forum in Delphi and discussed with Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) President Yiannis Retsos, Europa Nostra Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović and Elliniki Etairia Maro Evangelidou.
Speaking during a panel titled “The struggle for sustainable tourism”, Kikilias said it was “imperative for Greece to find balance between a sustainable development tourism model, job opportunities and the protection of destinations”.
Cap on cruise arrivals per day
To achieve this balance, Kikilias announced that the ministry would proceed with a pilot scheme and set a cap on daily arrivals to popular Greek destinations including Mykonos and Santorini.
“We have agreed with CLIA [Cruise Lines International Association], leading cruise companies, the Santorini port authority, regional authorities and the municipality to set a cap on berth allocation and cruise arrivals at 8,000 visitors per day,” he said.
The ministry also aims to manage the flow of cruise ships to the island so that passengers and ships are equally distributed.
Kikilias expects the first results of this effort to become evident by December 2022.
SETE: Destination management is key
During the panel discussion, SETE President Yiannis Retsos referred to the need for Greece to manage destinations in order to decongest certain areas and support others.
As he said, areas burdened by tourism create “difficult conditions” for residents.
“Happy residents bring happy tourists,” he stressed and added that everyone should get involved in the debate for destination management solutions, including local authorities and the country’s productive sectors.
Achieving tourism sustainability
Meanwhile, Europa Nostra Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović said Greece was one of the main European countries that people wish to visit for its cultural heritage.
Cultural tourism covers at least 40 percent of all tourism activity in Europe. In the case of cities the percentage is much higher – at 80 percent.
“There have been many cases in Europe, where citizens were pushed aside by tourists. This should not happen… Involving locals in destination management strategies is the best way to promote responsible, sustainable quality tourism,” Quaedvlieg-Mihailović said.
On her part, Maro Evangelidou referred to a report prepared by Elliniki Etairia (Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage) containing valuable scientific and legal data; useful indicators on water and energy consumption; and suggestions for spatial planning and natural resources management.
The session was moderated by London Business School Professor Michael Jacobides.