Tourism for anti-tourists all the year round

Low-impact holidays, spent getting to know local business owners, exploring organic farms and enjoying alternative activities, are on offer in several parts of the country. This month’s issue of Kathimerini supplement ECO presents two different ideas for vacations, one in northern Greece and the other on the island of Crete. Horse riding on Mount Belles, boating on Lake Kerkini, eating smoked trout and buffalo sausages in forest tavernas, washed down with local tsipouro, as well as conversations with organic farmers, are the highlights of a tour titled «The Magic of Northern Greece» that begins in the village of Porria, in the prefecture of Serres. The unique ecosystems and food are not the only draw – what is special about it is the opportunity to meet people who are not torn by the «development or environment» dilemma. They believe protecting the environment is a prerequisite for economic growth. They focus on tourism and farming where nature is respected; they build hotels in the local architectural style and use local products. «I prefer to work with people who know that any activity they engage in affects society and the environment,» said Despina Papadima of Seavilization Travel. «I choose places where the focus is not on immediate gain but the long-term profit to be gained by developing the whole area.» Her decision to switch to ecotourism came after realizing that there were only two kinds of tourism: mass and low-impact. «No matter what kind of holiday – whether ecotourism, agritourism or alternative tourism – they all provide the traveler with an all-round experience and are also a means to achieve balanced development, support the local population and help protect the environment,» she explained.