1st Meeting at Seladi Cafe-Bar of the Walk the Blue Initiative.
Volunteer project about mapping, signaling and promoting the pathways of Amorgos Island. A tourism and environment protection project.
HENS?!!? What do you mean??? The idea of starting an initiative for Amorgos came from the hens. The hens? Yes, the hen was the first marketing expert ever! Every time a hen makes an egg, she announces it making a special noise “Kokokokodé”. With this noise, she wants to promote her product (the egg) showing how more useful she is if kept alive instead of being cooked. Her cry is a “successful promotional action”: and that’s marketing! Marketing is the 1st goal of the Walk the Blue Initiative: promoting an alternative touristic model beside what is already running in Amorgos and revamping the island’s touristic industry without sacrificing the landscape, the environment and the traditional still existing heritage. The idea is to get the opportunity of the application to UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE LIST of Chozoviotissa Monastery to communicate that also exists on Amorgos a large network of paths and dry stone walls, the uniqueness of the island. On this purpose we would like to have the pathways included in the enlistment for the UNESCO or, at least, included in all actions that will advertise the Monastery’s candidature.
Attracting an higher quality of tourists and addressing them to discover and enjoy the traditional and cultural heritage, could help to extend the lenght of the touristic season, to attract people with a bigger willingness to spend, to make profitable again some jobs involved to agriculture. These last years Amorgos has known an important decrease of tourism (from 2 months of high season 5 years ago, we passed to 1 month). This year, with the crisis, Amorgos’touristic high season was 2 or 3 weeks long (but Greek Island tourism grew of 7% in 2012). We can also notice an involution of the quality of tourists (younger people, less money to spend, less respect for the island, few interest in knowing better the island and its traditional heritage).
These last years of lower budgets, on the contrary, statistics show an incredible development of green, ecological tourism and of any other good related to wellbeing: healthy food, medicines, etc. The word more linked with “healthy”, according to a new big marketing research, is “tradition’. And therefore tourists interested in ”tradition”, wellbeing holidays and escapes from everyday life are looking for:
- environment conservation & protection
- nature & ecology, wellbeing and traditional food
- authenticity & culture
The history of fashion teaches that what is done by rich people after sometime is followed by the mass: there is a mimetic, aspirational process of identification: wellbeing and sustainable living is not a fashion for upper classes anymore (check the food in supermarkets, any package has got an healthy or green claim print on). There is only one reason if big global companies of food producers consider sustainable, healthy and tradition related marketing so important: BECAUSE IT MAKES MORE MONEY.
A tourism interested in tradition could be a kind of tourism that doesn’t affect what is already developed on the island and could help to make more money. More business but by keeping Amorgos identity.
The first tourists of Amorgos were actually nature and tradition lovers, walkers, people looking for preserved and authentic places. They‘re still coming out of season, are usually more respectful,adults, walkers and wealthier.
An activity consider healthy, responsible, alternative to everyday life seems to be in scope with these new trends of tourism and marketing:
in fact walking holidays are already a big fashion and a good touristic opportunity worldwide recognized and nothing new for the island that already successfully hosted this kind of tourism twenty years ago.
As everyone could experience, this walking tourists are often:
- ready to spend more money
- loyal (come back often)
- educated (looking for culture; history, traditions)
- like to spread the word ( bloggers, interests groups)
Amorgos has a very good touristic product that is alternative to the mass tourism, that could be dangerous for the survival of the island’s heritage. Let’s do like the hens and market the walking tourism and the touristic season will become larger and more money making.
Because, maybe, the MONOPATIA (pathways) are Amorgos’s gold eggs !
The inclusion in UNESCO list means, for any site included, an enormous increase of the number of visitor from the next year, due to the announcement of this event on many communication channels. Many tour operators could advertize Amorgos as a one-day-trip in their packages and this could mean hundred thousand of tourist arriving by boat from the nearest island with an airport or cruises that can have a stop over (few hours or 1 day) in Amorgos just to visit the Monastery, with the final effect of putting in danger the surrounding landscape, the environmental and cultural heritage,and the life of the island itself as it already happened in Petra or around the archaeological area of Cairo. Bringing a mass tourism could end up with touristic villages, pita shops everywhere, parkings, souvenirs shops… something far away from the soul of Amorgos! One solution could be: include the millenary network of pathways and dried stone walls under the protection of UNESCO and advertize them as a walking destination. The team of architect that works on the UNESCO project heard about the Walk the Blue Initiative and is already collecting data and information about these pathways from the historical and cultural point of view. But a bigger initiative has to be organized to emphasize the richness and importance of this network of paths and to ask for an inclusion of them into the UNESCO application. This inclusion will give the opportunity of marketing Amorgos as a “cultural walking destination”.
A project of protection and advertising of the pathways of Amorgos. A scientific team will be gathered to supervise any activity of renovation and a touristic and marketing plan that will extends over several years will be written to fundraise at private and public institutions.
The funds will support:
- Salaries for local workers that could permanently work on different aspect of the project
- Working material
- Renovation of the pathways
- Signaling of pathways
- Accomodation & food of volunteers workers
- Advertisement & marketing materials (internet, press, books, socialmedia)
- Events (festivals, seminars, information meeting)
- Promotion of local products & agriculture
SOME EXAMPLES AND LINKS TO CHECK:
- Cevennes (FRANCE)
- UNESCO – Cevennes
- Camino de Santiago (SPAIN) – English
- Valle Maira (ITALY)
- Ilkley Moor (ENGLAND)
- Sextantio (ITALY)
- Travel Forever
- International Ecotourism society
Gather a scientific team to supervise any activity of renovation, write a touristic and promoting plan that will extends over several years to fundraise at private and public institutions, renovate the pathways, signal the pathways, map them, organize some volunteer works from all around, create and develop advertisement & marketing materials (internet, press, books, socialmedia), organize different kind of events (festivals, seminars, information meeting), promote local products & agriculture
An initiative of protection of Amorgos pathways. Walk the Blue initiative aim to attract an higher quality of tourists and addres them to discover and enjoy the traditional and cultural heritage of Amorgos. A tourism interested in tradition and walking could help to extend the lengh of the touristic season in Amorgos and to make profitable again some jobs involved to agriculture.