Extensive project on sustainable food and agriculture launched on Crete
Heraklion, 7 July 2017. With the opening of the local food workshop, the extensive project “Crete – first steps towards a sustainable food destination” for sustainable food and ecological agriculture on Crete has now been launched. Stavros Arnaoutakis, Governor of Crete, Thomas Ellerbeck Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the TUI Care Foundation, Michael Mavropoulos, Regional Director East Mediterranean of TUI Destination Services, as well as Angeliki Chondromatidou, Chief Consultant of the Greek Tourism Ministry, welcomed more than 80 local wine-growers, olive-growers as well as representatives of different hotel groups, two winery and an olive mill at the TUI Sensatori Resort Crete by Atlantica (Atlantica Caldera Palace) near Heraklion. The objective of the joint project on Crete is to link the island’s most important economic factors – tourism and agriculture. To this end, the TUI Care Foundation, Futouris and the local agricultural consultancy The Local Food Experts, link local agricultural producers with the local tourism sector, helping to turn the Greek island into a showpiece for sustainable food on holiday. The project is supported by the Greek Ministry of Tourism and the regional government of Crete.
“The project shows how great the potential of tourism is for local value creation and employment in the holiday country. In order that everyone benefits from this – guests, local businesses and the local population – a close networking of the economy, agriculture and the tourism sector is important. We need to develop a common understanding of what guests value when visiting a holiday destination. And in the tourism industry we need to promote the fact that we are open to local products, influences and experiences. We are bringing this together in our project for sustainable agriculture and sustainable holidays in Crete”, according to Thomas Ellerbeck.
The focus of the project is on the two main products of Crete – wine and olive oil – and ecological cultivation and processing methods. In addition, seven traditional Cretan vines are particularly promoted by the production of local wines. Bart Lyrarakis, managing director of the Lyrarakis vineyard on Crete, emphasizes the importance of the project for the preservation of local wine varieties. His vineyard was already involved in the pilot phase “Sustainable Viticulture”, which was implemented in 2016, in which sustainable cultivation practices were implemented in collaboration with the local wine-growers.
In order to allow visitors to visit local production sites and have direct contacts with the wine and olive-growers, an innovative and interactive excursion program is being developed. Awareness and communication measures accompany the project.
In the long term, the aim is to improve regional food quality and quantity in holiday hotels, to reduce the negative environmental impacts of agriculture and to strengthen the local economy. In addition, guests will benefit from an expanded regional menu in hotels and on excursions.
Several key actors attended the launch of the project on the island which also included a visit of the participating farms. Thomas Ellerbeck, Angeliki Chondromatidou, Emmanuel Kokosalis, Mayor of the region Archanes-Asterousia, as well as the representatives of 15 Greek and international media could gain first-hand insights of the local production and cultivation sites, taste the products and exchange their views with the project stakeholders. The tour included a visit of the wineries Michalakis Estate and Lyrarakis Winery, the monastery Agios Georgios Epanosifis with its own cultivation, as well as the olive oil producer Botzakis S.A. The visitors could taste different kinds of olive oil and traditional local dishes in the ancient farmhouse Korsavas.
“We are working to link agriculture with tourism in a way that respects the needs of the permanent residents of the destination. The farmers of the five food producers that are participating in the project have clearly declared their desire to turn the page.”, Sotiris Bampagiouris, Managing Director of Local Food Experts, reflects the agricultural point of view. The strong interest of farmers, producers and tourism representatives in the project launch shows that the project is being carried out just at the right time. What is more: Bampagiouris is optimistic about the future development of the project and believes “that a platform will have been created by the end of 2019 in which Crete as a sustainable food destination will be presenting the first measurable results.”