Greece unveils sustainable travel platform

The Greek National Tourist Organisation (GNTO) has announced a new sustainable travel platform to educate British travel agents, tour operators and consumers about sustainable holidays in Greece.

The website launched on Wednesday (October 5) and provides information on the best sustainable places, experiences and hotels Greece has to offer.

Speaking at the launch event in London Eleni Skarveli (pictured), UK & Ireland director of the GNTO, said that the aim was to encourage tour operators and travel agents to sell more sustainable breaks and to support Greece’s eco-friendly and responsible tourism efforts.

Skarveli also said the inspiration for the platform came in part after attending Travel Weekly’s Sustainability Summit, in November 2021.

“So many destinations across Greece, from tiny islands and major cities to regional municipalities and the private sector, are stepping up to tackle issues around sustainability in tourism,” she said.

“Their efforts and resilience is truly inspiring and, after attending the Travel Weekly Sustainability Summit and seeing the appetite of the travel trade for more responsible experiences, we wanted to collate and share these positive stories with our trade partners.

“The hub is just the start, and we cannot wait to see it grow as more and more tourism partners take action and help us on our sustainability journey.

“We wanted to create a useful new tool for the travel trade to shed light on a wide array of Greek tourism destinations, some of which are still relatively undiscovered in the UK market, as well as providing inspiration for new itineraries, particularly those focused on sustainability focused travel.

“We intend to work closely with the trade on promoting sustainability through educational webinars, events and roadshows.”

She said the Sustainable Greece platform will be presented to WTM London visitors on the Visit Greece stand (EU1100) on November 8 alongside presentations of initiatives focusing on the proactive sustainable actions by representatives of the islands of Astypalea, Naxos and Halki, as well as ECTAA, a European body representing the national associations of travel agents and tour operators.

Many Greek islands are now seeking to reinvent themselves as sustainable tourism destinations, with initiatives ranging from programmes to protect natural habitats to becoming self-sufficient when it comes to energy production, and eliminating single-use plastics.

The types of trips promoted on the site include dolphin conservation trips to Alonissos with Responsible Travel, a Crete trip with Intrepid that includes a local homestay and Sunvil’s slow train trip from London to Corfu and Sivota.

Some of the many other initiatives for tourists include affordable electric car-sharing with other holidaymakers to travel around the island of Astypalaia, meaning that holidaymakers wouldn’t need to rent petrol cars or pay a premium to rent an electric car for their whole trip.

The island of Skiathos is also making strides in accessible travel, and has installed ‘Seatracs’ on four of its beaches, designed to help those with mobility issues enter the sea independently. The ramps are removed at the end of each season, leaving no lasting mark on the beaches.

On Evia, where Athenians like to take their holidays, 4,000 new trees have been planted to replace those lost in forest fires last summer, in a bid to restore the island’s biodiversity.

A “Pick the Alien” initiative from iSea has been introduced by The Cyclades Preservation Fund and the Ionian Environmental Foundation in Paxoi, Corfu, Santorini, Naxos, Amorgos, which encourages local seafood markets, restaurants and shops to sell and consume invasive fish.

Sofia Zacharaki, Greek deputy tourism minister, commented: “Greece is home to some of the world’s most beautiful natural landscapes, deep-rooted ancient cultures and precious indigenous species, and it is our responsibility to make sure these are protected, whilst at the same time allowing locals and visitors to enjoy them.

“It is so inspiring to see the work that is being put in to transform our tourism sector, and with policy changes, investment and prioritisation, focusing on diversification, sustainability and quality, we want to pave a new future for our country.”

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