Discovering sustainable Cretan olive oil on an exclusive excursion
The project “Crete – first steps on a sustainable food destination” has been running for almost two years and is remarkably successful: More than 200 farmers and 450 hotel employees have been trained in the sustainable cultivation of wine and olives and how to promote regional products to the hotel guests. Already 27 sustainable labelled products (21 wines, five olive oils and one bread) have been produced in the project and are available in the participating hotels, restaurants and wineries. The linking of local farmers with the tourism industry is also a great success: Over 150 wine and olive oil tasting events took place in the hotels with more than 2000 guests participating and the wine excursions became very popular.
In order to connect the tourists with the land and the people who grow and produce the Cretan olive oil with sustainable techniques, the project team has now designed an exclusive and authentic excursion in cooperation with the TUI Destination Experience.
“In every step of our project that aims to develop an authentic experience based on connecting Cretan land and true local people with our visitors, we discover in practice the benefit of sustainable tourism in motivating locals to protect their natural-cultural heritage as well as in sensitizing the visitors to learn about and respect our roots.” explains Maria Valerga, member of the project team.
On this excursion, guests immerse themselves in the world of sustainable olive oil and receive interesting information about the cultivation, production and use of the Cretan olive oil during various stops.
During a hike through one of the best Cretan olive groves, the Kritsa region, farmers show the guests practical examples for the sustainable farming of the olives and answer their questions. The tour continues with the visit to the reconstructed old olive oil mill of the Kritsa agricultural cooperative, where the visitors can taste the famous award-winning and sustainably produced olive oil. Here all guests learn how to identify the fresh quality extra virgin variety, how to store it properly, how to use it for cooking and how to distinguish the edible Cretan olive varieties.
Another highlight of the trip is the experience of “authentic home cooking” performed by the local women from in Kritsa in their gastronomic laboratory inside the village. Guests enjoy lunch by tasting flavorful dishes of local fresh seasonal vegetables, dairy and bread products. A visit to the Rodanthi Museum, a small museum housing a rare and endemic plants and numerous herbs of Crete, completes the excursion.
The first excursion was realized end of June with 12 participants who were very satisfied with this unique experience. This excursion will now be offered throughout the whole summer period.
In this project local farmers are brought to a better understanding of sustainable management methods and are connected with local tourism professionals. The link will be used to identify and exploit synergies between food producers and holiday makers.