The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), introduced its new sustainable content hub to the industry via two webinars, with panellists including some of the most senior figures in the responsible tourism industry. The webinars were aimed at inspiring and educating the UK travel trade and Greek stakeholders on their new, innovative green strategies and how they can work more closely with the GNTO.
Hosted by Eleni Skarveli, Director of the GNTO, the webinars showcased the new sustainability content hub for the first time, which is set to launch on 5th October 2022. This will detail future green projects, sustainable initiatives, social sustainability and responsible holidays and act as an educational and inspiring platform for professionals and the trade.
Eleni Skarveli comments; ‘As a country, Greece has always been green, as the way of life has been eating from the land and supporting the local community but we just haven’t tagged it as ‘sustainable’ until recently. As such, we have a good base to work from and have initiatives and an important strategy in the pipeline. We need the industry behind us to be able to offer visitors the greenest holiday options possible and to make Greece not only white and blue but also green. We hope the new hub shows how tourism businesses can adapt and transform to offer a more sustainable product.’
A number of Greece’s current pioneering initiatives that are to be included on the hub were discussed such as the smart island of Astypalaia, the exemplary eco island of Tilos, which is paving the way for future eco islands and the animal welfare work at the Arcturos Bear Sanctuary.
A core green project for Greece is The Rhodes Co-Lab, developed in partnership with TUI Group and the Region of South Aegean. The aim is to develop Rhodes into an international beacon for the sustainable development of holiday destinations. The Co-Lab will work with the local tourism industry and international partners to find concrete solutions and develop and implement them on Rhodes.
Dimitris Maziotis, Advisor to the Greek Minister of Tourism, explained; ‘For us, sustainability was the way of living before tourism existed and now it’s a way of life in tourism with three out of four hotel owners considering sustainable practises as key for business. We want to position ourselves on the world map as models of responsibility and we feel we are already doing this with our initiatives in destinations such as Astypalaia.’
The focus from a government perspective in the new roadmap to sustainable tourism is all about reducing the environmental footprint, whether that’s through environmental energy, sustainable practices, infrastructure or transport.
In the private sector, Sani/ Ikos Resorts and Metaxa Hospitality Group discussed the inspiring eco-initiatives that are already firmly established within their hotels. This includes reducing energy consumption, food waste management programmes, growing their own produce and making sure that sustainability isn’t just another pillar in the operation of the business but the focus throughout, from hotel construction to operations and guest experience.
On the tour operator side, the GNTO is already working closely with Intrepid Travel and Responsible Travel on incorporating sustainable practises into their packages. Both operators already offer a number of sustainable holidays to Greece, with both agreeing that customer satisfaction is driven by the responsibility and sustainability of trips, which in turn leads to customers returning each year.
The GNTO is encouraging of new tour operator partners as building a more sustainable tourism industry requires as many stakeholders as possible.
The first webinar was aimed at the UK travel trade, moderated by Richard Hammond, founder of Green Traveller, and a panel consisting of Dimitris Maziotis, Counsellor to the Greek Minister of Tourism, Konstantinos Triantafillis of Metaxa Hospitality Group, Eleni Andreadis, ESG Executive Director of the Sani/ Ikos Group and Guest Speaker, Melvin Mak, TUI Group Head of Sustainable Business Transformation.
The second webinar was aimed at Greek stakeholders and moderated by Susan Deer, Director of Industry Relations at ABTA. Panelists included Sonja Prvan, Contracting Manager at Intrepid Travel, Tim Williamson, Director at Responsible Travel and Carolyn Wincer, Commercial Director at Travelife as well as Guest Speaker Melvin Mak, TUI Group Head of Sustainable Business Transformation.