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Greece Aiming to Find Balance Between Tourism Activity and Sustainability

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.

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About the Author
Eleftheria has worked for several financial newspapers, magazines and websites during the past 19 years. Between 2004 and 2014 she worked as a radio producer, reporter and presenter for the Greek and English language program of “Athina 9.84 FM”. She also has hands-on experience in the MICE industry.
  1. Hash Reply

    “cruise arrivals at 8,000 visitors per day,” he impossible to control this!
    “Happy residents bring happy tourists!!”…. Laughing as I write having worked in Tourism industry in Mykonos for many seasons….I have read these kinds of sustainability write ups all my life…. Nothing ever has worked in Mykonos especially…it is a loosing battle between commercial greed, unjust laws, just look at right now as I write… they are still building and over crowding and yet many years ago they all took a pledge that no more hotel beds would be permitted,10,000 sq MTs was needed even to apply for a planning application… what happened to all this?!…The most simple things like building a beach side road
    around the island for the traffic to circulate like other Spanish Islands like Lanzarote, Tenerife,Las Palmas where the authorities take infra structure projects much more seriously than our beloved Hellas… Policing an island like Mykonos is not easy…. congestion,no adequate parking facilities,the ones which are there a very long walk and very inconvenient…. Hope they find basic solutions like volunteers which they did a few years ago…. Trash and garbage was another serious issue when I lived there, hope things are better now… Public toilets non existent…the list goes on..

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