Larisa Doctoro, pulished an article in the online magazine Rendez-vous (an American womens club of Brussels publications) about sustainable tourism in Amorgos. She knows “Amorgos has established its tourist niche in sustainable tourism, meaning, tourism that respects nature and local traditions … The island is self-supporting, producing most of what is needed to get along: its own meat, fruit and vegetables, oil, honey, olives and cheeses as well as an abundance of local fish”.
International Convention for Culture & Tourism an Amorgos
For the last seven years, the islanders have organized the International Annual Convention YPERIA during which sustainable tourism and green living are discussed. The conference was held in April 2010 at the Aegialis Hotel & Spa in cooperation with the Cultural Association of Tholaria Women in Aegiali.
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I feel a bit strange to hear that a congress on sustainable tourism takes place in this “Egialis Hotel”, which is a stain on Egialis bay scenery imho. The building of this kind of luxury hotel with big pool, such as the recent “ELIES RESORTS” now defacing Vathy bay on Sifnos, should not be encouraged.
You are not the first person to make this observation including many of the delegates. In actual fact sustainable tourism is hardly touched on. Indeed there seems to be very little understanding in this forum of the difference between eco-tourism, responsible travel and sustainable tourism.
The page on eco-tourism on the main menu is just part of a much larger paper I presented to the EU. A larger but still edited version can be found at: http://walkingingreece.com/eco-doc.pdf I think that you will find that para five covers your point.
I hope in any case that it won’t be too late when the touristic potential of the islands off-season will be enough taken in consideration (ie that there still will be monopatia and kalderimia in the landscape, not only on the maps and in the memory of walkers).
This letter from another hiking guide (http://amorgis.blogspot.com/2007/05/blog-post_31.html) goes in the same direction as Paul’s I think: this guide says he’s managing groups of hiker’s from New Zealand, who go so far as Amorgos just because of its scenery, paths, “unspoiled” look, and that when every monopati will become a useless dirt road, they will go somewhere else (he’s referring to the destruction of the central part of the Potamos-Chozoviotissa monopati, to make a road to nowhere)
I totally agree with “The way forward is not to increase capacity for this short period but to put strategies in place to lengthen the season and manage this growth through eco-tourism”.
The place of amorgian agricultural products in the touristic offer is another thing that should be developped. Last time I was there, I could’nt find anywhere amorgian wine, for example. Everybody says “yes…there is…but…very few…just for home consumption…” etc As for the fava, old people told me the one that is now served mainly comes from Crete. No foreigner knows about the “amorgian black bread”. The only “local product” which seems to be available (except from honey) is the psimeni raki, but it’s made with cretan raki.
In short, “more mavro krasi, less frozen seafood” could be a way to give inhabitants the possibility to work all the year long in their island, instead of transforming it into a 2 months summer-dormitory.
Bravo Stamati. I do not know however why you have grouped me into the ‘uninformed’ As you know very well we have spent every day of the year for the last 11 years living and working in the mountains with whom we feel privileged to call our friends. The goatherds who think I am crazy when I meet them at six in the morning on my run. The farmers in the fields as we walk our clients around the mountains. Helping with the olive picking. Supervising the Raki distillation (a great pleasure!).
Readers, please note what Stamatis says. We do not import raki from Crete. We make it here from our own grapes. We actually export goat and lamb. We do not need to import. We also export local wine and olive oil. At all the establishments that Stamatis mentions many of the ingredients are organic and from here. Again at these establishments all the beef is organic and local. Most of the fish is local and fresh. Demand requires certain shell fish to be imported and frozen but this is down to the consumer’s choice.
As Stamatis says: ‘just spend a day with the local people’ this will however be starting at dawn, or before. Join me on my run – no charge. Get off the beach and see the real Amorgos. And, yes we will speak for the people who do not understand this medium. The delightful and hospitable islanders, albeit behind the scenes really welcome you. Just be grateful that there is such a relatively unspoilt Greek island for you to enjoy. Please let us keep it this way.
Stamati, I really do think that we should actually ask the islanders for their views on the comments or perhaps there are not enough M’s on the key board!
I will publish an article on the making of raki on Amorgos very shortly.
Please don’t gather every shepherd here to fill these pages with “m…kies” etc I’m sorry I wasn’t clear enough in this comment, but I didn’t mean that every food was imported from outside and that it wasn’t possible to eat katsikies or arnia from Amorgos, nor vegetables. Regarding to the wine, I’m glad to hear that some restaurants offer amorgian wine and raki ; but I must say that every time i asked for, i was answered that there wasn’t enough wine product on the island, and every barrel i saw in restaurants was of (good) cretan wine. People who told me how they made their own psimeni said that there wasn’t enough amorgian raki, so they used (good) cretan raki. Cretan raki makes anyway good amorgian psimeni raki, i don’t discuss this. What i wanted to stress, is that there could perhaps be MORE local products, and sometimes better advertisment about it. For the wine, perhaps i didn’t go to the right places? So, next time i go to Amorgos, where in Egiali area am I to find local wine? Am I to find “mavro glyko” somewhere?
Stamati, I think there was some misunderstanding of my reference to the ‘M’ word!
OK, how about setting up a local produce fair for YPERIA 2011. I would suggest a neutral venue such as the community hall in Tholaria. Each producer or establishment would have their own stall with small samples of local wines, raki, cheese etc which they produce or offer in their tavernas and restaurants. There should be good support as it would give people a chance to also promote their businesses at the event. Maybe also have some of the equipment used on display e.g. a raki still. We may however need a few stretchers standing by to convey the delegates to the bus!
Whilst I appreciate that the, ‘guests would love it’, with the greatest of respect, you cannot create an industry on Amorgos modelled on one which works in Austria. You are lucky having tourists probably 365 days a year. Our high season is just six weeks. This year it was probably less. What is this ‘permanent store’ going to do for eleven months a year? Who is going to pay for the overheads for a whole year? Who is going to staff it high season when everyone is busy running their pensions, hotels and tavernas? Why do we need a store when, as Stamatis says, if you just ask politely, you can find out where to buy local produce. Where do you think we all go to buy local produce? This is not Crete or one of the other large producing areas of Greece. What are the restaurants and tavernas going to do for local supplies when visitors have bought us out? Do you prefer your salads and meals here to be prepared from local olive oil or that imported from Crete? Do you want to drink local wines and raki produced here or imported? And, what are we to do for supplies in the winter? Sure, we do export certain produce such as olive oil but not in great quantity and it is in bulk. Bottling, marketing and selling on the island doesn’t make commercial sense. And finally, the dreaded EU. Have you any idea of the limitations on commercial sales of local produce and the licensing regulations? It is a nightmare and just not worth the effort or cost.
There is however nothing to stop visitors going into the mountains and picking herbs or climbing around the cliffs for capers to take home. Olives and goats are out of bounds! Also of course certain countries restrict certain fresh agricultural imports.
Anyway, we want to make sure people have to come here to enjoy these things. We don’t want you throwing dinner parties for your friends in Vienna with our local olive oil and wine. We want you to tell them to visit Amorgos and enjoy these delights here with the views of our mountains, the sound of our music and experience this culture. Not with the Alps and Mozart (both of which, incidentally, I enjoy immensely – just thought I better mention that!).
Erwin, et al, however, please keep the ideas coming. In management consultancy terms it is called ‘helicopter vision’. When you are so involved in a business or environment you often do not see the opportunities that abound. It often requires an outsider to spot them. Getting the local people to accept these ideas is however a different matter – believe me!
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