National Seminar on Sustainable Tourism Development of the European Interreg Med project SUSTOWNS
On Thursday, the 10th of June, the National Seminar on Sustainable Tourism Development was held online in the framework of the INTERREG MED project "Sustowns - enhancing SUStainable tourism attraction in small fascinating med TOWNS". The event was coorganized by the Development Agency of Eastern Thessaloniki’s Local Authorities, ANATOLIKI SA, in collaboration with the Tourism Organization of Thessaloniki and the two pilot Municipalities of Aristotle and Volvi. The two Municipalities are associated partners for ANATOLIKI in the SUSTOWNS project and they were two of the pilots for this European project that promotes sustainable tourism development in 7 countries of the European South through parallel actions.
The main purpose of the meeting was the presentation of the methodology for the Sustainable Tourism Development proposed by the SUSTOWNS project, the transfer of know-how and experience gained from the pilot activities in the Municipalities of Volvi and Aristotle as well as the presentation of good practices on Sustainable Tourism Development in the Region of Macedonia.
The event was greeted by the Deputy Regional Governor of the Metropolitan Unit of Thessaloniki and President of the Thessaloniki Tourism Organization, co-organizer of the National Seminar, Ms. Paraskevi Patoulidou, who spoke enthusiastically about the initiative of ANATOLIKI SA and expressed the support of the Thessaloniki Tourism Organization. He also stressed the difficult position of global tourism with the pandemic, which, however, activated new reflexes and expressed the belief that we will now have a new social and economic reality where knowledge, research, technology and innovation will be the new dominating constants and the driving forces for the economies of all countries.
Greetings were addressed by both Mayors of the pilot Municipalities: Mr. Stylianos Vallianos, Mayor Aristotle and Mr. Diamantis Liamas, Mayor of Volvi who in turn thanked the representatives of ANATOLIKI SA for the opportunity and assistance to their Municipalities to implement new, innovative practices in the design of their tourism product, with the elaboration of Action Plans for sustainable tourism. The two Municipalities proved their willingness to be an innovative and bright example, for the adoption of the methodology promoted by the SUSTOWNS project by other Municipalities of the Greek territory that have similar characteristics, being coastal or of low population density.
Closing the introductory part of the event, the president of ANATOLIKI SA Mr. Socrates Samaras, after thanking the participants for joining the event, did not opt to emphasize on the most diligent technical assistance that ANATOLIKI will be able to offer to its member Municipalities after its forthcoming transformation into a Development Organization.
Τhe first part of the day, included presentations by the university professors Mr. Nikolaos Karahalios and Mr. Spyros Avdimiotis. The first referred to new trends in global tourism, such as "slow tourism" and the Management of a Destination towards a sustainable model of tourism development, emphasizing in the digital / green transition, while the second focused on the carrying capacity of a destination, ie the number of visitors that can accept an area without jeopardizing its environmental, social and economic resources but also for the critical issues that must be controlled and addressed when designing a tourism development plan.
The president of the Panhellenic Hoteliers Federation, Mr. Grigoris Tassios, also took part as a speaker, conveying the current situation of the emerging tourist season after the critical Winter of the pandemic that afflicted and continues to afflict the tourism industry in an unpredictable degree.
The first session of the event was concluded by the representative of ANATOLIKI SA Mr. Charalambos Vassiliadis presenting to the attendees the methodology of sustainable tourism development of the SUSTOWNS project also making a brief review of its pilot implementation in the two Municipalities, Volvi and Aristotle.
The second part was dedicated to good practices on Sustainable Tourism Development of a destination. The representative of the Tourism Directorate of the Region of Central Macedonia Mr. Miltiadis Nikolaou spoke about the very good initiative of the Region of Central Macedonia to certify among the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe, and through the formation of a new body the cultural path named: "In the footsteps of the Apostle Paul".
The successful implementation of "Edessa CITY CARD" was presented by Mr. Evangelos Kyriakou, Head of Tourism Department of the Municipality of Edessa, Destination Management Specialist and focused on the reflexes and adaptability that must be demonstrated when planning tourism development.
The Deputy Mayor and Chairman of the Tourism Promotion and Development Committee of the Municipality of Aristotelis, Mr. Nikolaos Avgerinos, after complementing ANATOLIKI for the excellent collaboration, presented the plan for wine tourism in the Municipality, a tradition that originates from the neighboring Athonite state. The speaker emphasized the three basic elements: “authenticity, locality, uniqueness "on which the design of the relevant tourist product is based.
Finally, the event reached to an end with the presentation of Ms. Kyriaki Tsouralaki, President of the Municipal Council and the Committee for Tourism Promotion and Development of the Municipality of Volvi who focused on tourism development, with a sustainable orientation, around the unique landmark of the Municipality, the homonymous Lake Volvi. He referred to all the interesting points and proposals that have been included in the special tourist package that has been produced with the assistance of ANATOLIKI SA in the context of the SUSTOWNS project.
The general coordination of the event had the General Director of ANATOLIKI SA Mr. Iakovos Sarigiannis who at the end of the event informed the attendees about the upcoming international conference of the project, which will be held in Thessaloniki next September with the participation of all the partnership representatives of the project. He also noted that the next step is to transfer the acquired know-how to another 15 new municipalities, having as a priority the Municipalities of Central Macedonia.
For more information about the project visit the official website of ANATOLIKI
and the webpage of the project https://sustowns.interreg-med.eu/
You can watch the seminar on youtube (https://youtu.be/lL1aUJymzuo)