Sustainability is in. Vinted, the online marketplace and app, recorded more than 800 million items listed globally last year, London expanded its Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to all 32 of its boroughs, while Nielsen found 70% of consumers now believe sustainability is more important to them than it was two years ago. It’s a trend that has carried through to the travel industry as well. These days more and more travellers are picking destinations that will benefit the most from tourism and are making an effort to get to know the communities that call a holiday destination home. In Greece, which attracts 120 million tourists each year, making sustainable choices has become increasingly necessary. But fortunately, on one of our tailor-made trips, making them is as easy as pie – or spanakopita. Read on for our top tips on sustainable travel in Greece.
- Undertourism in Greece
- Philantourism in Greece
- Community-based tourism in Greece
- Flight-free travel in Greece
Believe it or not, there’s more to Greece than its islands. In fact, there’s 49,769 square miles of mainland that rarely gets a look in. Yet most tourists flock to only a handful of holiday hotspots such as the tiny island of Santorini, which draws in a staggering two million visitors each year, and Mykonos where overtourism has caused water and electricity shortages, slow Wi-Fi connections and little to no maintenance of well-trodden streets. This is where our concept of undertourism comes in. Championing the idea of striking out against the tourist trap cities and towns in search of their barely touched counterparts, we think it has the power to change the way we travel. From secret Cycladic islands, which are still endearingly authentic, to provincial port towns (here’s looking at you Galaxidi) there are still some heavenly hideaways ready to be roamed.
Philantourism: the act of choosing a holiday destination that will best benefit from your tourism. When it comes to sustainable tourism in Greece, this is probably the easiest and simplest ways to do it. Once you’re there, all you need to do is put your money into the local economy, supporting hole-in-the-wall cafes and restaurants, embarking on local wine tastings and filling your boots with Grecian souvenirs such as olive oil, ceramics and komboloi (also known as worry beads). Sustainable tourism in Greece sounds pretty good now, doesn’t it?
In a nutshell, community-based tourism is about putting the people that call the country you’re visiting home on the map. With their in-depth knowledge and love for the land, they make ideal guardians to preserve wilderness areas. And Greece is no exception. At Aristi Mountain Resort, the staff are locals and excursions are organised by Zagori natives, while at Dexamenes, design was no joke when they transformed an abandoned wine factory on the Western Peloponnese peninsula into an award-winning hotel, taking every measure to ensure its strong history and beauty were preserved. Even when community-owned hotels and excursions aren’t available, we’ll do our best to make sure our community-based message hits home. On a trip to Athens and the secret Cyclades, we can combine visits to old-world villages such as Anafiotika, originally built by Anafi emigrants, with lesser-known Cycladic islands, like Serifos, which is home to myriad archaeological excavations and 16th-century monasteries.
With the UK’s commitment to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, flight-free travel has been receiving more and more airtime. But we’ve long been fans of this form of travel. Swapping lengthy customs queues for leisurely strolls to Eurostar seats – it’s a no brainer. From Paris, take a high-speed TGV to Milan (with a brief pause in the scenic French Alps for obvious reasons). Then, the next day, head down Italy’s calf to Bari where you’ll swap to the sea (and a cabin) for the final leg of the journey to Patras on mainland Greece. The flight-free fun doesn’t stop there either. To reach Greece’s ethereal islands, boats are the only way to go, especially as many of the islands are vehicle free. And if you’re staying on the mainland, what better excuse for a road trip?
Written by Naomi Pike | All images by Olivier Romano