Successful presentation and communication of our joint Crete project to various stakeholders
Our joint project “Crete towards a sustainable food destination” with the TUI Care Foundation in partnership with the Local Food Experts social cooperative enterpriseand blueContec GmbH is very successful and enjoys great popularity. All the more reason to further promote the project. The past weeks the project team presented our project to EU policymakers during an event in Brussels as well as to numerous journalists during a press trip.
Andreas Koch, CEO of blueContec GmbH, introduced the project on behalf of the project team to relevant policy makers during an event in Brussels organised by the TUI Group Corporate Office EU. He was accompanied by Angeliki Iatrou from a project winery (Michalakis Estate). The aim of the evening was to give European policymakers a vivid illustration of the agriculture connection with tourism under the principles of sustainability and how this could positively impact on local communities ,environment and visitors satisfaction.
The event was opened with a keynote by Ms. Anna Athanasopoulou, Head of the Tourism Unit at the European Commission. During her opening remarks, Ms. Athanasopoulou highlighted: “The reason why I decided to come here this evening on behalf of the European Commission, is the fact that the very principles behind this project supported by the TUI Care Foundation are very close and very relevant to what we are doing at the European Commission and to a number of policy debates about tourism and sustainability in different corners of Europe. For us and for the EU Tourism Policy, sustainable and responsible tourism is one of our key priorities and tonight we are lucky to be looking more closely at a project that speaks about that: how tourism can build on local assets, how tourism can connect with local businesses and actually drive social change, bringing economic and social value to the communities.”
Andreas Koch also gave some insights into the general set-up of the project and highlighted how it could form an important example for other tourism destinations to follow. The project has supported around 190 farmers and five food production units to deliver 27 sustainably produced products (21 wines, five olive oils and one bread) to nine hotels. The hotels in turn promoted these products through special interactive events like tastings and cooking sessions. Also two unique excursions were created by Maria Valerga, also member of the Crete project team, and the local TUI Destination Experience team on Crete. These excursion meanwhile run with great success and guest satisfaction.
Afterwards Ms Angeliki Iatrou, Communications Manager of Michalakis Estate Winery, one of the local wine producers supported by the project performed a wine tasting explaining the unique characters as well as the advantages of the sustainable farming practices. The wine that is being produced in light of the project, has seen a growth rate of 7.4% among hotels during the last year only. All attendees were highly impressed by the project and the wine tasting.
Following the event in Brussels a press trip of journalists to Crete was organized where the team of TUI, the Local Food Experts and the TUI Care Foundation presented the project to 17 journalists from various EU countries including Greece.
Kostas Bouyouris, CPO of the Local Food Experts, took the interested journalists into the world of sustainable wines and olive oil in Crete and brought them closer to the exciting specifics of the project through visits to participating farms, food production units and hotels.
One of the group’s stop was the Archanes region, a unique beauty with natural landscape and the Michalakis winery. A representative of the winery explained the process of sustainable wine production and two indigenous project wines were tasted accompanied by traditional local flavors. The first day ended with a visit to the Holy Monastery of St. George Epanosifis where the deacon gave an overview of the Monasterial sustainable land management.
The following day the group visited one of the oldest and famous olive groves of Crete, the area of Kritsa in the East of the island. In a sustainable olive grove farmers of the Kritsa Agricoop showed how one of the oldest olive varieties “Koroneiki” is grown and harvested based on sustainable agriculture techniques. While tasting sustainably produced olive oil, the “green gold” of Crete, the attendees also learned how to identify and distinguish the fresh quality extra virgin olive oil and how to use it for cooking. The experience was enriched by the flavorful local dishes with unique fresh and seasonal ingredients of the region, prepared by the women cooperate of Kritsa.
Could tourism become a helpful tool for sustainable regional development? During their visits to the participating wineries, olive mill and hotels the journalists learned that linking sustainable agriculture and food production with the tourism sector is a great concept to strengthen the local economy, to raise awareness for good quality regional food among the holiday makers and to improve the quality of holidays and the visitors satisfaction.
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.