OUR FUTURE GREECE
Welcome everyone to Our Future Western Thessaly Greece! This time made in collaboration with Visit Meteora and also supported by Icelandic Tourist Cluster Thank you everyone who are here and by that i will just stop to share this slide and then we have some people who have entered the meeting and we can start! I think it's me and Chris Doyle who will have the first words. Hello! Hi Chris! I am actually in the east eastern side on the other side of Sweden than from Doyle. My name is Daniel Byström, I'm a destination designer and I've been working with destination development for the past 15 years with community based projects mostly in the rural parts of the Nordics. Together with me I have my partner in crime Chris Doyle who can present himself. You bet! I'm called the dreamer.. it's been my tag for I think my entire adult life, maybe even before. I have been involved for
two decades now destination development work uh experience and product development around the world for tourism adventure tourism and like I say I'm here in Western Sweden - the better half of Sweden. No no no.. I've spent time over with Daniel at his summer place which you see in his backdrop there it's incredible! Thrilled to to have this ecosystem of extraordinary people contributing here today! We'll do introductions in just a minute or in a few minutes with some of our international collaborators. And George - special thank you to you for hosting this! I think you and Pavlos and Dimitris you know I've traveled throughout Greece over the last 15 years.
Rhodes, Crete, Peloponnese, Catalonia and I must say my heart still resides in Meteora on many different levels. So it's a delight to be here and to do this Our Future with you! maybe we should also start to say uh chris um to explain for everyone who are here now what what is our future could you start to explain that sure so daniel and i uh since we do destination development work we have struggled as have destinations all over the planet on understanding how to be the most effective in hearing the voice from local people to help them self-determine their futures and so we started a a program called our future so that we could lend the microphone to people in rural communities throughout the planet the places that don't ordinarily get a lot of attention where human migration to urban centers have left some areas abandoned or just with less energy so daniel and i uh decided that what we would do is flip the script a little bit and instead of looking at governments to drive and provide policy and direction for destinations in the responsible tourism arena we would go to locals and really work with them to hear the voices to understand whether when how why they want tourism and does it fit for them and if so under what terms what conditions so our future is designed to create this international platform so that destinations around the globe can listen in like google earth dive into single pinpoints on the planet and hear the realities on the ground and then this exchange between local experts and international voices who are going to reflect on what we're hearing and another amazing thing about this our future concept is that in originally we were talking about of course visiting and that will also come when we're through the pandemics and post pandemics we are able to actually do this in with the physical meetings but one one opportunity that we also have seen is to gather people who are passionate and then have have expertise from from different areas so with us here today we have a great panel of people that are specialized within food and culinary tourism and within uh the destination development and yeah behavioral economics and and all kind of things and and this panel will uh will be presented further down in in this um in this our future uh session um but uh by by by that maybe eucharist would like to introduce the first uh speaker of this event you bet ah thanks daniel so years ago i don't know pablo's it might have been seven or eight years ago in the mountain in the andorran mountains we were connected by then secretary general celebrify who grabbed me by the arm and he said come here i want you to meet somebody and you will be friends for life and he introduced me to you he put us in a room catered to lunch and we sat there for hours and it was very clear that he was correct uh and so pablo's in you i found uh a fellow journeyman who's on a long-term mission to lead legacy to create the future you want to see and i know you know you you play several roles throughout greece you're well recognized so your country uh you know you're the citizens of greece who are on this call probably already know you but to our international guests pablo was the minister of culture for uh greece has held various political positions uh is a private company owner uh thank you for for host uh for your family hosting me for a couple days in catalonia last august to learn about your one of the most sustainable fisheries in in all of europe uh that was incredible so pablos thank you for being a friend thanks for always picking up the phone offering guidance and thank you for sharing with us here with our audience a little bit about tourism greece in the future can you hear me now yeah all right chris thank you the opportunity that you've given me is tremendous and uh before before i continue in english i would ask you permission to say some words in greek to our greek friends i have invited some people from various municipalities around greece and if any of them are here i would just like to clarify some things beforehand foreign foreign foreign so um chris and daniel i i have um i have badmouthed you to all who could understand greece greek and um and now it's my turn to turn in english and to say welcome to greece and welcome to facility uh it's lovely to have you here uh as you have already identified it's a it's an amazingly rich uh part of greece that um that we're talking about today but but the part of greece that has not reached its potential on any level um and um i also said in my remarks in greece that you're coming here um on the first week after we celebrated 200 years of the establishment of the of the modern um greek nation and in in that way it's it's a very important week for us it's the beginning of a new journey and 200 years ago people like yourselves came from all over the world to help greece stand on its feet and and they did it with a lot of love for the country and we're very appreciative of that but in the process of establishing them on greek state they made a mistake that was um that was very painful painful for all of us and that is that they established an extremely powerful greek central state from which every decision had to had to come so powerful that 200 years later you still need to speak to the minister in athens in order to make a movie in meteora you have to get permits for everything the local government does not have um the tools yet to be able to to develop the way that uh it and the community its community wants to develop and the reason they did that is because greece was established as a country in debt both political and economic and having a strong central athenian government was important in order to pay back this debt a story that has repeated itself through time and time again so um in the process when when when athens collected all the the the power it also collected a lot of the money and slowly but steadily the the the richness of our countryside started started subsiding um since we know our history for the past two and a half thousand years greece has been organized in regions uh city-states you might have heard them as and these were regions that were very proud very powerful at times even during the the roman empire the ottoman empire they sustained themselves as economic and political unions uh units that were um that that would decide their own future and uh when um in the past 200 years we started disassembling those areas and and destroying in the process the richness of the greek countryside if you go to the night museum the only museum i know that covers greek history from prehistoric times until today you will see that up to the 20th century each region had its own costumes its own headgear um costumes that would vary tremendously from one part of greece to the other the our own produce and recipes our own music um and uh and even our own modes of production and quality standards so these these were very strong communities that that that knew how to create wealth and for the past years and uh as greece has been more and more dependent on foreign money from the european union and so forth these regions are are pulling back uh and i think it's time that we start thinking of them differently so um uh even in my home uh island that you are that you visited uh when i was born there was still dialects that you couldn't understand but these are slowly um withering away as greece is considered one nation and the name of nation building we chiseled away the uniqueness of the stone that we we built with and now we are we have more common bricks uh so we've been destroying for the past 100 years what um what we were like for the past two and a half thousand and i think it's very very important that we understand that this is something we we can reverse and that it is very important to reverse it if we want local communities to to to be independent and to grow um so um i see you as people who are here to help us reverse the damage and to to create to correct the mistakes of your of your ancestors uh daniel and chris and now that um i have put these humble stakes on the table um let me just finishing by by saying a little bit about where we are right now when and where we need to go from here um for all of you who are um coming across uh greece and greece for the first time i can tell you that um we very often sit on amazing wealth we don't realize um well we we we appreciate sometimes ourselves but we don't understand how it can be used in order to create identity uh tourist identity i mean and and how it can attract people uh one time a mayor of a village uh came to me i was sitting at the coffee shop and he said i want to speak to you the the village is um situated next to a beautiful river delta a really gorgeous part of greece and a very rich ecosystem and he said to me can you help me build the museum i said what for he said well to put antiquities and i said well you don't have any and he said well can't you send me some antiquities from museums that don't want them anymore the what the the the i say the story because sometimes we we really sit on amazing wealth and we don't realize and this was a mayor that was sitting on on on something that would attract thousands of tourists but still understood tourism as something that uh where people visit in order to see antiquities and to see ancient greece um and this is very common we we we love our olives as greeks but we never think that people might be willing to come and visit us in order to pick the olives up uh with us or sometimes um know our grandparents how generous they are and how much they love to see us visit their villages and so forth but we never realized that their heartfelt hospitality that our grandparents show us that they showed to all their guests would be would be a tourist attraction well these in fact are tourist attractions now people are looking exactly for these things they're looking for the experience that will blow their mind that will change the way they understand the culture they don't want to just come to greece and look at the acropolis they want to do that but they want to experience the culture behind so so the question is how can you do that how can one person change um the perception that we have until now and the answer is one person cannot do it one person cannot do it but it's important that we do do it and it's important we do do it because our regions are losing our our children children are leaving um places like thessaly to go to athens or to go abroad we're losing some of our most creative minds and uh and the stakes are really high in order to bring um to bring these regions to create their own wealth and their own development so before um i i i give this up to back to chris and so forth let me say five things that i've learned to unlearn uh speaking with chris uh all this time uh things that i took for granted that are should not be taken for granted uh the first is that the region like thessaloni should not wait uh it should act uh it should not ask it should demand and the reason is that local communities have an urgency that the central government does not have the the the energy that can be instilled in in a local community is nothing is is is multiple compared to what you could hope for uh in in a greek ministry so if you want change you have to demand that you have to ask for it and bring it about the second is ask don't assume you know in greece sometimes we we we associate asking for advice with with weakness we think that people who ask too many questions a week it's not the case i've learned speaking with these guys how communities that are a lot poorer touristically than greece have managed to stand on their feet and do amazing things just by asking what is interesting to other people how how you can leverage what you have in order in order to get things i mean amazing things done and and i think it's it's it's important to understand that that um when you speak to chris one thing he will say is your competition is not mykonos it's machu picchu in peru and it's it's it's a wild atlantic way in ireland and countries who have rain most of the year but those are countries that have managed to stand on their feet and we need to find out how they did it if they can so can we and it's important to to know how to do it the third lesson is uh it's not the the big the the small it's the it's the faster the the the the slow uh it's it's a lesson that that i've learned uh that i think is very valuable until now we always thought in greece that you have to be big in order to create things you don't and uh for those of you who know there's an island of calmness where five or six guys with a great internet connection uh make calmness famous for rock climbing and now it's one of the regions in greece that is is is enjoying a surge in visitors um because they they did things differently and this is exactly the type of thing that that daniel and chris are talking about uh the first the fourth um lesson is uh when you do something like we're doing today don't invite only the people you agree with invite the people you don't agree with first get the naysayers on board as soon as you can um many of you know that or feel that archaeologists tend to slow down development it's not the case my experience with archaeologists and believe me i've had more than i ever thought i would is that 20 are indeed naysayers 60 are people who if you bring them into the game early on will will will help you and will tell you how to avoid uh delays and how to avoid and how to move things through the process and then there's 20 percent who are really inspiring people who know the land better than any of us who know the history and the traditions who who can refer to things that you can put in your brochure and make it more interesting they're people who love their land and can really help you so if you start by not inviting them you you're losing a great asset that can actually help you out the same thing with environmental organizations the same things with the priests in meteora i know there's tension there with with kalabaka and it's unfortunate because because once again we've tried to do things without them while if we had started off by bringing them into the fold they some of them at least they have been great allies in what we're doing and the final thing is cooperate don't compete you know um finally um capitalism has arrived in greece and the moment we're starting to learn the rules uh here come chris and daniel and they want to change everything around and what they will tell you and they are absolutely right is that you're not competing with the taverna next door you're not you're competing with other lands far away lands and no one is attracted by competition no one no one is attracted by two taverna guys who are fighting on who's going to get the last client coming to their village people love a tourist destination where the people will cooperate people will make sure that you have a good time whether you go to the juan taverno you go to the other and at the end they will tell their friends and more will come and and as more and more people come there's more for everybody to enjoy so instead of thinking in the traditional sense these are five things that we need to unlearn really really fast in order for everything that chris and daniel tell us to to take to to take root in in in our communities and to start reversing this thing that happened wrongly 200 years ago so that local communities can really become independent and start creating their own wealth so good luck to all good luck to uh chris and daniel and and pay attention because i've learned to love what they do and they've learned to adopt it as one of the most forward-thinking trends in tourism today thanks thanks to all pablos thank you uh for setting the stage super powerful messages um uh there's so much to comment on i'm gonna reserve my comment for right now uh because we have uh two others who really have to have their voices uh heard but thank you for the for the wisdom and we'll be coming back to some of those points for sure and thank you for the comments thank you thank you pavlos i i also would like to say that you have got a lot of appreciations from from others joining in the chat and then please everyone keep on writing in the chat it's it's super good to have all of your inputs who are joining this meeting thank you it's perfect uh definitely uh and throughout all of this if questions emerge for you please put them in the chat function and such for all all of you who have just arrived welcome to our future western thessaly greece uh here's where we're basically doing a google earth diving into a community uh in greece in the thessaly region and now we're going from the macro level from what pablos just did to perfectly set the table and now we're going to introduce another good friend of ours uh we call him pure energy and uh he's a younger professional but no less wise uh who because of the pandemic has been our eyes and ears on the ground who has basically traveled all of greece uh and and built up a network and really has on ground viewpoint taking it from what pablo's just described he's a bridge between say for example the meteoro region and what's going on up here at the big political arena level and he's got some keen insights so i'd like to introduce here demetrius please join us and i'll let you pronounce your own last name so that i don't hack it hello chris hello everyone thank you thank you very much for for for asking me to join this panel um yes my my journey in tourism i haven't i haven't actually traveled the whole of greece this is one of my one of my goals and i'm slowly slowly doing it my journey in tourism started in 2013 when i went on to study international tourism management at the university of brighton and since then my daily life as soon as i open my eyes is what's going on with tourism and what are we doing in in this country um i have had some some experience as i was a consultant for municipalities so i got a chance to see how we are promoting our country in foreign travel fairs and since 2017 i have been focusing on creating a unique ecosystem of innovative brands along the food value chain and trying to find solutions how we're going to connect our gastronomy our food with tourism and right now we are aiming to launch our new platform which will feature authentic experiences food experiences all over greece um and i'm also the board advisor of the world tourism association for culture and heritage which is the only organization worldwide to focus specifically on cultural and heritage tourism both tangible and intangible so i would i will i will move on and i will briefly take you through some facts and figures on on greek tourism and then i will share what is being discussed since last year when the pandemic hit us so we are all on the same page we will end with two key subject areas which are crucial and should not be and should be taken into account in order to define our vision and agree on laying out the strategy for quality tourism and sustainable local development so tourism in greece has come a long way and is going through an odyssey of its own from travelers and explorers sleeping on roof because there was insufficient infrastructure in the 60s to 33 million guests in 2019 just a couple of numbers to to get an understanding of how what the growth looks like in 1960 we had roughly 340 000 guests in 1980 we had 5.2 million in 2010 that went up to 15 million and in 2019 that went up to 33 million and the interesting figure here is that in 2010 with 15 million guests the expenditure per person was 640 euros and in 2019 with double that number 33 million it went down to 564 euros um so in terms of government and ministry in in 1929 the national tourism organization was established and was incorporated in the ministry of economy the gmto was actually the state head for for tourism until march 1989 when the ministry of tourism was established between 1999 and 2021 we've had 16 ministers and couple of restructuring where the ministry was incorporated in other ministries and later on re-established as an independent ministry in terms of hotel dynamics and infrastructure there are a bit more than 10 000 hotels all over greece with the average uh rooms being 42 so that means that almost 8 000 hotels are less than 50 rooms which which makes us understand that the the the true backbone of the hotel sector are smes and family-run businesses and just to get a further understanding of this 77 of the total number of hotels in greece are one two and three star hotels whereas the five star hotels are only six percent uh and here we can also see an uneven tourism distribution and planning in terms of uh hotels so 21 is in the south aegean where we find also mykonos and santorini 16 alone are in crete which is an island by itself uh 12 percent are in central macedonia where we find the the second biggest city thessaloniki and ten percent is the ionian nine out of the thirteen regions account for less than seven percent of our hotels in greece uh moving on i'd like to also talk about economic and seasonal dependency 5 out of 13 regions account for 80 percent of total visits and specific regions and destinations economically depend up to 80 on tourism which takes place roughly three to four months and in some places even two months so a year's income just comes in in two months so summer 2020 that all changed uh when the when kovat crisis hit uh our tourism receipts just to get the the an understanding of the catastrophe in 2019 it was 18 billion in 2020 that went down to 4.5 million with 1.5 being
from domestic tourism 60 of all hotels opened and one in five all-year hotels managed to stay open so this past year has been quite interesting uh with all these zooms the the only online webinars workshops and meetings gave the opportunity to kick off public discussions involving all stakeholders tourism personalities public authorities representatives academics and other key stakeholders for the first time but still communities representation was missing sharing ideas discussing outlining outlining the issues kicking off numerous initiatives and proposing solutions is critical and definitely a good thing however with the current global industry at uncertainty the over information the tendency to treat fundamentals as trends and trying to convey a lot of messages while people are in survival mode and picture themselves in their business in the new abnormal it is evident evidence that we have confusion concerns and many questions as far as i'm concerned having all these discussions without a specific agenda or framework questions a successful outcome so just to get give you an understanding some of the topics being discussed involved the following changing the model of tourism in greece which is music to some stakeholders ears while old school stakeholders and some entrepreneurs don't take it seriously and don't kind of welcome it and this makes absolute sense uh wherever we have destinations and professionals that have invested invested for masters models it makes sense they they they have uh they have this perception uh there are voices also expressing that we are there some voices thankfully that are expensive expressing that we are too dependent on tourism and that we need to focus on other industries this probably happens because these voices have not realized the interconnection and interdependence of tourism and how tourism can help other industries prosper also there are discussions about tackling seasonality and ongoing discussion for the last 10 years without actually working on strategic initiatives policy infrastructure etc we are looking to increase tourism spending marketing vs management what do you do in a in a time of crisis dmos which have been discussed were in discussion probably before i was even born in greece but we we kind of have unofficial dmos partnerships between public private some private but no official dmo that's currently going through legislation and there are again numerous ideas and case studies however many questions on how to form it who is to join what is what is going to be the funding is it going to be local regional or national and most importantly who is going to staff these dmos uh and i will i will end with a couple more points in terms of niches and trends and we are currently seeing that we there's there is a tendency to tackle one at a time so we have uh committees being set up at the ministry for gastronomy tourism for health tourism for digital nomads and it seems like we are tackling these issues as they are separate boxes and not interconnected one another and if we keep this track uh i think that it will take us a couple of years to go through all niche tourism forms authenticity of course and we also have some some other questionable things right now during the crisis the greek national tourism organization decided to outsource for the first time its national campaign which later on became a three-year a three-year strategic plan which we don't know a lot about that we're looking forward to to hear the outcomes and we also have some other things which i recently heard about that possibly vaccinating our staff quickly will be a unique selling point and competitive advantage for this season i think this is a very short short-term way of thinking and finally we have some official and unofficial predictions that are saying that we will reach 50 or 60 percent of what we had in 2019 i i would like not like to comment on that let's just see what happens because no one has a crystal ball uh at the moment so moving on quickly to the first the first issue i want to raise all the above are the outcome of what we think tourism is about and therefore our perceptions perceptions have a lot in common with opinions since each one of us has his own opinion on every subject and therefore a perception so understanding perceptions and taking them into account is essential in order to agree on the vision goals and kpis we have the questions we need to ask ourselves and the locals and everybody involved is what does tourism mean to you and what is tourism after all and this is a new this is a topic that that has caught my interest since 2015 and i i did my dissertation on on british people's perception and destination image of greece uh this is this was a very uh very interesting topic because i found a lot of information that british people didn't even think that it snowed in greece uh they weren't aware we have mountains and on a question where i had different pictures of waterfalls meteora and frozen lakes and i was asking where is this place i got the whole world and it was just photos of greece and for matera the most common answer somehow was china because of the mountain formation um so traveler perception is a whole other story but they were going to focus on how locals perceive tourism which i believe is impacted and varies by their current role position and involvement within tourism the destination they are in and what types of products they are offering and training and also market stereotypes that didn't come from me so just a couple of examples i tried to get away from my position i have not carried out primary research but this is from all the discussions i have been having so what does tourism and holidays mean to to greeks and what the what comes to mind so primarily the summer holidays will come to mind an island beach and a specific period because greeks tend to take their holidays starting from 15th of august which is the heart of the heart of the high season so this is the first thing that comes to mind and here and there some other holidays to visit family for national holidays and fun funnily enough and it coincides with what we are selling to tourists abroad what we see as tourism as well in terms of teenage and young greeks they tend to visit their islands with their friends most of the time and i have been doing that myself we we tend to visit the same island over and over again and probably the same dates it's like it's it's on the calendar and they tend and i did this myself to find some part-time seasonal work in restaurants water water activities bars etc without any previous involvement in the industry or any on or any plans to to stay involved in the future and it's just a means to fund their holidays so going now and zooming into ireland and rural communities tourism basically means survival basically means money because they are coming out of hibernation for maybe six seven months and are opening again to the world in terms of government tourism is a very important industry it accounts for for more than 20 percent of our gdp however it has been satisfied and considered a success if we uh just have the scenario of increasing our arrivals one from one year to another um so and and and of course we also have various stakeholder perceptions depending on the way of doing business and here i would kind of split it into two there is the personalized kind of doing business which can be a small tavern which is waiting the whole year to open up to to bringing guests and and and it's and it's his own pride and it's a way to meet people and then we have the wholesalers which are kind of counting heads and they just want to to to fill up rooms so we can understand that these two people and these two characters of course will have different perceptions uh something also very important is the media so last summer it's how the the media perceives tourism last summer it was the first time that i saw tourism uh being so many times on the news however the typical question when a journalist was going to these islands and talking to the locals was how many people are you expecting this year and when are you going to open and there was no further elaboration on impacts etc and of course like we have seen through our future as well there are the cases and perceptions of use having tourism for as a tool for change and this might be to protect nature like we see in rwanda like i saw in gambia when i went to with a with a university and we we did the project on turtle conservation tourism can can mean to someone's mind that i am saving my nature or i am creating uh opportunities and building communities locally and it's a gateway and we see this let's say in the favelas of brazil where kids are kept out of criminality by getting involved in becoming let's say tour leaders and finally i'd like to end with with this in terms of perceptions tourism education and career paths and prospects there is a lack of tourism management understanding importance and awareness here in greece it's it's mostly focused on hospitality and from from what i've seen courses are not being broken down and there is an absence of specialized curriculum in terms of splitting it travel management tourism management events planning and development etc and even if some schools universities are putting in these modules there is a limited absorption of graduates in the specific fields within the industry and just to give you a personal example as soon as i came back to greece in 2016 nine out of ten people i was speaking to both involved and not involved in the industry i told them i studied international tourism management and straight away they turned to me and they said oh so you're going to go work in a hotel now um and and 80 and and and in an unofficial let's say conversation with the dean of faculty of tourism in in one of the greek universities uh she turned around and she told me that the meter is almost 80 percent of our graduates are going into hotels and because tourism schools and cooking schools are combined the rest 10 percent are going towards a chef let's say career so it's an opportunity therefore to consider all the above accept current reality create a generation of tourism stakeholders who understand the fundamentals and have a background of tourism-related studies only then we will be able to restructure build the responsible tourism conscience and agree on the vision and chris i will i i'm i have my eye on the time uh two more minutes uh now touching upon fundamentals having mentioned the fundamentals of tourism let's not over complicate things and understand them in a simple way so let's picture tourism as a living organism for instance a heart which consists of three elements economic society and culture and environment any action plan initiative we take should find the balance between these three elements and achieve a win-win-win outcome in case one of the elements is negatively impacted the balance is distorted and we should take action to fix it and keep the heart functioning properly this will result in a well-balanced ecosystem and hence achieve sustainability if we achieve the above we will also be successful in adaptability resilience innovation and evolution therefore we need to treat tourism as a tool force for change and prosperity rather than just a product sustainability should should also be protected and be tackled with responsibility and caution in order to avoid going down the wrong path like we saw happening with green washing sustainability should not be promoted as a phrase or narrative once on the right direction its practical success will promote itself therefore completing sustainability training modules hanging on our walls certifications and pr actions could be considered a good start but is not enough and could hit us like a boomerang and have the opposite effects and i have some examples which maybe i can share later chris if i'm running if i'm running late uh so yeah this is uh the main points thank you very much well you never disappoint my friend pure energy and i just want to point out nick's comment uh because uh i share it nick says this is the future ahead and he's pointing to you and other young people uh one of our contributors on today's panel jane connolly is here i can see her up in the picture another uh younger individual and paca from south africa i mean these are the young leaders who must carry the torch for all of us uh we can do our best to offer insights etc but we need to pass the baton in fact we need to do this together to get to the next plateau of responsible development so for all the listeners who have just joined in for listening uh we will have q a it's a we extended the program because there's so much dialogue after this but we're going to hear from another good friend of ours and the actual geographic region that we're talking about here today and for meteora years ago maybe let's see now it's five years ago already george uh coming down george hosted myself when i was with the adventure travel trade association and we toured through the meteora region visited tricolor visited quite a few different areas in the region and i was just dumbfounded dumbfounded by the fact that in one block you get a over a million visitors a year and just a few kilometers away there's zero tourism and yet the resources were equally interesting at both and so this is something that george we're going to take what pablo's offered in the big picture the extra details uh that demetrius just provided and uh began to bring it down now we're gonna get specific real world challenges opportunities with you george thank you for hosting us i passed it over to you my friend thank you thank you chris hello everyone thank you so much for having me it's a great pleasure to honor and join this panel i will try to briefly share with you my knowledge about the region as a destination insider but before i start i would like to invite a friend a neighbor and a bright example of the local administration the president of the greek central union of municipalities the mayor of uh trickle uh city for a brief greeting george thank you uh good afternoon to all of you my name is dimitri fabasterium as you see and i'm the mayor of the city of tricolor it is a small but very calm and beautiful city about 22 kilometers away from the famous rocks of matters some say that rickala is the first smart city of greece but being smart is something that we have to prove every day in our real life i have just a very short intervention very few notes wrote down the first issue we have to face is that till now all the institutions and them talking about local authorities prefectures municipalities but also the private sector now we are i'm afraid following parallel single roads but we must be met and found in a new crossroads and we have to fight and agree to a new holistic approach of local tourism because of tourism for sure it is not something that just we see but it's also something that we have to taste we have to live we have to sense it and this is uh a portion that is missing to our local uh strategy of tourism of the last years uh suppose that tourism is a combination of a beautiful place and triggering all our senses and for our place for the famous fantastic unique rocks of metals it is something that has to be combined also with unique tastes for example it is difficult to find a place to taste a monastic nutrition it is something i have to find and go ahead further and which is the role of legislation to all this local growth in terms of protecting the environment i'm afraid that in greece the last year the years we went from one edge to the other um i've heard sometimes the laws are presenting new problems to local growth and tourism especially for the rocks of matters and this is something that we're discussing every day with the private sector of tourism and then and which is finally the role of local institutions i suppose that we have to share the same vision this is the point because silos is something very useful for farming but not for tourism and local growth we have to merge our comparative advantages and follow a common strategy this is something that is missing and the new low tourism law with dmos it is just the beginning because no law at all can help you walk the same road it is something that has matured by all the parts that are involved in tourism this is something that we're discussing a lot with george and the people of tourism of calabaca uh it's a matter of fact and i'm closing with that i'm concluding with that that faisal is a fantastic place it combines a lot of physical beauties seas mountains tastes but the strategy is missing the role that we have to play the next year is very crucial for our future so thank you damn staying and very totally open to learn from from the best as i see thank you a lot yeah so um i'll try to share with you some uh insights and some knowledge about our destination we're going to talk about the development how how it went in the past where we are now what are the challenges and the opportunities and i have to say that i'm really struggling if i should start analyzing the destination from the perspective of the international traveler or from the prospective of the destination development organizations we see many public organizations are trying to promote and manage destinations within certain geographical limits using regional borders and names that are totally relevant or may or doesn't make any sense to the international traveler or to the tourist market in general uh now to to to explain a little bit uh the destination of matera i will start with the main pillar and the core of the destination thessaloni which is the site of meteora and if i should have to describe matera within a phrase i will say that in the air of instagram material is probably the most instagramable and the most shareable place in the world and that's not because we have unlikely many other destinations we have few eons of erosion on our side but also because this place is in nature and man-made creation in a perfect harmony material is a world-class destination it's unesco world heritage list monument since 1988 and i want to say here that unesco have three main categories nature history and art matera back in 1988 when it was declared unesco world heritage risk monument fulfill the criteria for the two out of the three categories at the same time which is nature and art a very rare combination very few other places in the world can have this combination and what means that in practice is that the visitors were doing a hiking tour like i did with chris five years ago and they enjoying this breathtaking landscape with the canyons and the caves and that rare geological phenomenon at the same time they enter inside those monasteries that have been built back in the 14th and 16th century and they can marvel some of the finest examples of the byzantine and post byzantine high iconography and they can see in the museums calligraphy and art and the holy relics and the treasures that are inside those monasteries which is something priceless something unique but there is also an archaeological site all the core around that rock forest is a an archaeological site characterized by the great government as an archaeological site back in 1922 it's one of the oldest characterized archaeological sites of greece and it's also a natural park it's an area which has a great value for the environment for the wildlife it's protected as a natural park but above all it's a holy place it's an active monastic community over the last 1200 years we have that's a special community here the monks who are practicing their own way of life and we should approach destinations like this like matera always with a lot of respect and uh attention for for all all these different things that it is um also matera it is on the bucket list of every traveler who is planning to visit the greek mainland and there are so many activities that can cover a plethora of different interests such as cultural tours a lot of nature based activities photography stargazing food stores we have here truffle hunting and cooking we have food and wine tools we have amazing wine estates people here can do soft adventure activities like hiking and rock climbing and mountain bike and e-bike tours or they can do cultural tours and it's a destination that can satisfy so many different uh needs and interests from uh from visitors it's something totally unique now regarding the connectivity of our destination with athens for example which is the international hub we don't have any airport here we don't have any international airport but we have the privilege to have a train and the train in many cases is replacing an airport in many destinations and lately we have very good highways so we have very good connectivity we're right at the center of the greek mainland it's about three and a half hours four hours maximum drive from athens and two and a half three hours drive from thessaloniki pretty much the same time you do with the train but within the next couple of years we're gonna have even better uh travel distance since they will deliver uh more new highways and better uh railway electric railway constructions so in the in the future we'll have even better connectivity now a little bit about the few words about the development and how the development started here decades ago about uh the last four or five decades that we have the the tourism since i remember everything everything started on on automated pilot i would say it was like driving a tesla car but off-road there was no serious planning or strategic from from the local government and basically the the tourist model here was based in a very very very big percentage on escorted tour groups day trips or trips that had maximum one night stay stay with big coaches that was not a very sustainable model of tourism we ended up we ended up a destination that was based on quantity over quality and you understand very very well what i mean with that yeah the last few years we saw a slow but steady change it was a swift into a different and more sustainable model that was not the result of a policy again it was or any serious planning from from the administration but mainly it was because of the digital era and all on all these changes that came along with the new way of travel and the the new technologies brought just to mention google maps trip tripadvisor or airbnb booking.com and website websites that are making the planning and the the how how we travel much much easier so we had more and more people uh that they will come individually to visit matera that brought a lot of opportunities especially the last five five ten years furthermore we have better cars better roads faster trains so so people in general feel much more confident to travel uh on their own instead of joining uh joining a group we believe that the pandemic will surely increase to say the least that uh trend in the future now the main the main challenge the main problem or destination was try to resolve as soon as the tourism will recover is the impact of over tourism when tourism will eventually recover in the next few years i mean hopefully in the next few months but i don't see it we will probably see the old same the same old problems again the same old problems which is over tourism at the core of the destination and no tourism at all at the at the periphery of the destinations this is a big challenge that we have to try to find solutions today tomorrow another challenge that it's pretty much the same in many other destinations is the limited time that the visitors are willing to dedicate when they visit the destination this is this is not a new problem the question is how we can convince the visitors to spend one more day or few more hours here in destination because it's not about the quantity uh it's about the quality and you can you can have few people that they will stay longer they're gonna do slow slow tourism and they're gonna spend more time they're gonna dive into the destination and they will spend a lot of money if they stay here one more day um our team here in visit material we strongly believe that the answer and the challenge is to make the experiences the cornerstone of the destination marketing of the destination it's it's very very important to that to see to show to the people that here you can do this you can do that you can do unique and mindful experiences in the planning process and then they will decide to stay one more time we have tested that and yes it works we have to do it better we have to do it more the the second pillar of the destination of the region here is the countryside the beautiful rural area of the nearby mountains and i'm speaking about pindos and hussein mountains which is an unexploited and untouched natural area the economy here is purely agricultural agricultural and farming uh with great quality of food products there is a you know you know the region of thessaly and especially the western thessaly has the reputation as the best area that produce the finest food products in greece and i'm speaking not only for vegetables and fruits and stuff like that but also for milk products for cheese and for meat production and also for wine and the economy around there in the periphery is mostly agricultural and farming but it has some great characteristics especially for the new trends that are shaping after the pandemic and we have to see how we can exploit that destination because we have a lot to earn this place has amazing history wildlife there is a ski resort there are stone made bridges picturesque villages there is a virgin forest wilderness white rivers and over there you can do a variety of nature based activities in that region currently unfortunately this area which is just few minutes drive from material is not taking us a single slice from the pie of tourism and this is a big challenge and we will have to find the way both private and public development agencies to see how we we can change that the main problems here are related with the human resources since the population that have been left behind after some big migration waves that we had in the in the past are in general older people and farmers older people and secondly most of the visitors it's connected with the problem as i mentioned earlier they will come here they will they will want to see the highlight they will see the meteora the monasteries and and then they're going to move to the next highlight they it's very hard to convince a visitor to take away a day from mykonos or from santorini or from athens and dedicate it to the destination we have to fight hard in order to succeed to succeed that the third pillar of of our destination is the urban areas mostly the the the city of tricolor and calabaca town especially tricolor municipality over the last years became an example of innovation and and also it became an example of smart city practices not only national level but uh beyond the the the borders of greece and the cornerstone of uh the tourism attraction of trikala city is the biggest christmas theme park the middle of the elves which attract mainly domestic tourism but succeed to bring over a million visitors in a very short time of time window of time during the christmas holiday and actually that initiative succeeded to to put our destination at the top of the choices of the greek families for the christmas holidays in the whole country and this is an example how from one initiative in a neighbor municipality it was a win-win situation for all for all the destination and it filled up some empty gaps for the hotels for the market in early december in late november before the christmas because all that people couldn't come of course on the 25th of december or on the 1st of january because everything was fully booked and we say we saw that the month before the holidays which was not a very busy month before it filled it filled the gaps and it was a great opportunity for the for the tourist market of the of the region now to to conclude i have to say here that we have three there are three implementing initiatives for the destination marketing of the region we have the national level tourism boards the greek tourism organization and discover greece which is run from market in greece this is an international level of course they do some efforts to to market and promote all the great destinations of course and there is a regional level one is for the region of thessaly and there is another one a third level which is in a county level it's um very important because this is um for the original unit of tricolor perfection the last six seven years there is an effort to create a kind of a dmmo in the region in the region here in the trekkal unit i have to say that the progress was quite slow it took six years to do things that uh we in the private sector we usually we need six months to do them but yeah that is something that we know that the the public sector is quite slow um but also we saw some uh some technical disorders uh i can say we saw an example of competition between the stakeholders of uh material and tricolor mostly for branding related issues which is acceptable and equal representation of the regions because now we speak about you know different cities different towns some destinations have a different focus a different orientation but as i said before at the end of the day for the eyes of the international traveler we are the same destination that initiative will solve a lot of uh problems uh because uh in the past we didn't have um and not only in the past even today in small places like in calabaca we don't have the knowledge workers and we don't have the budget in order to create a dmmo with the international standards that we see in the united states or in big other developed countries so by combining forces i think it was the wise decision to do it now we have to try to to resolve all these all these disorders and try to to go in the future with uh an optimism and also we need to find a way to connect and synchronize all these different efforts i have good nationality george i have really good news for you which is looking forward to here you are not alone what you've described what we've heard from pablos from demetrius from the mayor from you these are there is a common thread of all of these challenges and what you have here today with this group and thank you very much for pulling it all together for us because now we should get into some of that dialogue and start to bring up some of those points that you made and hear from some of our special guests to comment on that so just i want to thank you for investing time energy and painting the picture for us locally and thank you honorable mayor for jumping on we know you keep a busy schedule and i've been looking forward to meeting you personally so this is uh quite a pleasure thank you um so daniel i'm going to pass it right over to you thank you chris i think this has been really interesting and as we aim to kind of like zoom into a destination it couldn't be made in a more perfect way from palos to through dimitris and to george and now we will hear from from a group of people that we have invited to to the to the panel uh i also want to to say to everyone who might uh be from other places other destinations that our future is about learning from each other is about creating a community between destinations and we think that we are all connected when it comes to our future so that is why we are making the concept like this and when we will present the rest of the panel in in here uh i will give only 30 seconds each and you will say who you are and i will start and i have already said who i am so but i will say it again because i also want to to to say my nickname my nickname is daniel the fearless in this group of specialists and i am a destination designer uh working with destinations mostly before it has been in in the nordics but uh i see the same challenges i must say in all destinations uh where i will come not at least here in greece as well so over to to jane all right thank you i'll make this quick uh you can probably tell from my accent that i am here representing the united states i grew up in the rainy but beautiful pacific northwest but have spent the last 10 years in spain so i have an interesting perspective of american traveler as well as european my specialty is food tourism culinary tourism so how can destinations reach sustainable development by focusing on their culinary assets that's it wow right and she's the epicurean and in fact you're the change architect good afternoon good evening everyone my name is pagami le chazo i go by paca i am in south africa i'm in djobeg and i'm the founder of zulu nomad which is a social enterprise whose core purpose is to enable african tourism capacity and enterprise development at scale and also the founder of in africa which is a marketplace connecting um travelers to some of the really really awesome experiences and hosts that we have all over this continent that you just won't find if you went and tried to look for yourself online i'm very excited about today's discussion because there are such relatable issues and challenges which we see in so many different african destinations which are absolutely stunning but nobody knows about or nobody visits you know everyone comes to cape town and then off to kenya and you know but you miss out on so much more in all of these destinations so i'm very excited to hear um more about our culinary opportunities in gastronomy um and food and wine and culture very excited to be here today thank you pekka and then we also have board hello everybody i'm bald i am a norwegian i i've been for 25 years i've been running a consultancy working with tourism development all around norway planning strategic planning also with working with sustainability uh like some of you have said already that the problems you're raising in greece is the same problem that we have in norway in the nordic countries as well maybe we have some different ways of dealing with them but anyway i think that we we can recognize it and i hope to to be part of a discussion uh with you the last year i've been working with a new national strategy for norway a tourism strategy it was delivered to the ministry just before easter now so and we are looking in norway to see how we can develop tourism in a more sustainable way for the future that's a big issue in norway as well we don't like you have talked about we don't want to get back in the same situation with over tourism too many people at the same time better is also a discussion in norway how can we build that reason better after the pandemic thank you okay and then we have melena melena i cannot see you but maybe elsa you can fix that but meanwhile are you there melina yes i am i do apologize that i cannot go on on camera today but you can see from my stunning photo that i look fabulously well my background is in using human behavior to understand better the root causes of phenomena that we're trying to either understand or or resolve in the context of tourism so i often work on projects that seek to trigger behavior change of these road behaviors towards more sustainable or commercially successful tourism the second important thing to know about me is that actually greece is one of my favorite spots on the world so those of you who usually speak to me know that i often use greek backgrounds to battle the zoom fatigue that we are all victims of these days so i'm especially thrilled to be connected to this group and to greece by heart and soul which already is a fact so thank you for making me part of this and i'm really excited to be here today thanks then over to iceland our nature lover also christine that's a really good name now when our you know mother nature is yeah having a scene here in iceland uh thank you for all this great talk and and i totally agree with uh parker who's saying that uh these issues and and challenges they are all the same in a way and we always find that i mean of course they are not always exactly the same but but we can learn so much from each other my role here is to manage a cluster uh and what you have described can all be fixed in a way by managing a cluster from your area as well so we should just make a sister cluster in in in your area to to make this happen and and brits between and me and park we we have experiences there so we can help you bridge between the public and the private sector and help the public sector to to run faster because we we have no time to to do things slowly now we really need to do things fast and we need to do them well and we need to of course be sustainable while we do it thank you thank you i'll start and i i will skip you uh because you have already presented yourself demetrius and george and pablo sensor i think we we have all uh spoken now chris you will also get some words but i i don't