ECONOMY

Promoting agritourism

The European Commission is seeking out the best agritourism destinationse through a competition for a pilot program, with Greece’s participation. The Tourism Development Ministry has invited interest from destinations that wish to be part of the Commission’s program «European Destinations of Excellence.» Proposals have to be submitted to the ministry by July 16. For candidate destinations to be selected, they must have developed initiatives to promote their tourism product in the last three years, along with a program for highlighting the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the region. They should have also adopted a philosophy in favor of balanced social, cultural and sustained environmental development. Some of the main criteria, which must be illustrated through the submission of print documents, are the following: Candidate destination, along with agricultural activity, should have particular natural beauty and be able to attract visitors. – Agritourism and other forms of tourism should be promoted on the broader market on an organized and systematic basis. – Development of agritourism should form part of a broader strategic plan of local and regional development, and partial interventions should be complementary, not fragmentary and isolated. – There should be some networking and exchange with similar destinations in Greece or abroad (e.g. through the «Leader» program). – Promotion of local traditional and biological products are essential, with the operation of firms or cooperatives. – There should be promotion of traditional culture and folk art items (musical instruments, fabrics, agricultural tools, costumes etc), allowing interested visitors to learn more about them. – Should include a variety of outdoor activities, such as horseback riding, mountain biking, trekking, fishing, rafting, cultivation and animal husbandry, depending on each area’s peculiarities. – A history of celebratory events featuring local delicacies, representation of local customs and of agricultural and traditional activities, and fairs with traditional dancing and music. – Accommodation facilities should be small, in accordance with local architecture. – Candidates must also illustrate their production and trade in natural and agricultural products, the maintenance of the traditional character of their region, their contact with nature and the preservation of their cultural and historic heritage. The destination selected will be promoted through the website of the ministry as well as through the Pan-European campaign sponsored by the EC. The winning destinations from each of the 10 participating countries will be promoted at the European Forum in Portugal.