Editor’s message, 01-01-2024
Beyond good food and leisure:
only a New Year with Authenticity & Sustainability can be a “Happy (New) Year”
In our message last April we wrote that the last three years have been a dificult period for the whole planet and everybody is looking for a ‘break’. We also welcomed our foreign friends to have their break in Greece, enjoying not only the sun but also the Greek slow food and culture, not just as a choice of “taste” but also of life-style .
Summer 2023 turned out to be a difficult one for many countries around the globe, including Greece: wildfires and floods affected not only local people but also the holidays of thousands of visitors (existing and potential). These difficulties were not a coincidence and probably will not be an exception in the future: the whole planet is under extreme pressure and the consequences of our “normalcy” in the last decades affects even more the vulnerable areas (including the “holiday destinations”), where some nature is still left – in fact struggling to survive.
As once more was made clear after the COP28 UAE-UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai last December, the journey to save our planet, and the way of living we developed over the centuries, will be a long, but also a complex one. In Authentic Greece we strongly believe that Sustainability, especially in tourist destinations (mature or unspoiled), which is a prerequisite for our own existence, cannot be accomplished without the involvement and support of local communities. Our quality of life or better our survival, cannot be retained solely with eco-friendly investments, like energy saving, waste management and especially the reduction of fossil fuels usage – which is yet to be defined and implemeneted. Such an ambitious goal needs significant “counterurbanization” and sustainable rural development, to keep local population where they belong, year round – and the support of local production (especially of food) is the very first, elementary, step of the process. Sustainable Gastronomy Tourism can have a real impact towards this effort, both in terms of content, but also for familiarization of many people with an unknown way of life.
During the 2023 Forum on Gastronomy Tourism, UNWTO Secretary-General Mr Pololikashvili emphasized: “Gastronomy Tourism can play a leading role in promoting responsible agricultural practices, protecting biodiversity and reducing the environmental footprint. It can also create new opportunities for communities to thrive and protect their heritage and traditions and become an engine of growth and diversification for destinations supporting our roadmap towards the Sustainable Development Goals.” This is in line with Mr Zurab Pololikashvili’s statement, back in 2012 (!), when opening the 2012 UNWTO/Basque Culinary Center Forum on Gastronomy Tourism: “Gastronomy tourism adds vitality to rural communities, supports small, local food producers and strengthens their position in the market contributing to add value to the tourism experience while promoting the preservation and development of local produce and know how.” In order to ensure that gastronomy tourism can grow as a driver of rural development, the Forum participants recognized the need to strengthen coordination between tourism, agricultural and rural development policies.
“Greek.food.tour“, our Sustainable Gastrotourism Label, which supports authenticity in (local) food offered in tourism, and the involvement of local producers in the tourism value-chain, is our contribution to this exciting effort, to develop tourism services more engaging and interesting, making at the same time our environment (local and global) more pure, diverse and much safer; in short, for a better planet. In fact, there is room for everybody, in every industry, to develop tools and solutions that contribute in such a global effort, and we are proud that many professional sectors of Greek tourism local hotel associations in Greece and European restaurants, have joined forces to form a new life-style paradigm, in tourism and beyond. Maybe we cannot solve the whole problem, but we want 2024 to be a year that we will be able to start making some difference; and have many of you with us.
Thank you for your interest and participation so far.
The Authentic Greece Team