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October 30, 2020
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about holidays in Greece? Is it the sea, is it the sun? Well, definitely, this Mediterranean country is mostly known for being a summer destination for its pristine beaches, the great local food, and the warm hospitality. In recent years, however, many tourist agencies and entrepreneurs have adopted a more eco-friendly perspective, which attracts more visitors from around the world. This shift towards green energy, nature, and giving back to the local communities has seen the rise of a more eco-conscious type of tourists.
You can choose to stay in a green hotel or a guesthouse, immerse yourself in the community, learn about the locals' farming techniques, or simply see how you can contribute to the whole eco-friendly movement. You can do that by shopping from local vendors and artisans, littering less and reusing, and, most importantly, treating the ecosystem with respect when doing outdoor activities. Why not start your eco-friendly holiday in Greece with the 5 top tips that we gathered for you!
The first thing green travelers do is to consider their low carbon footprint. Depending on where you come from, you'll have to decide what type of transportation has the least impact on the environment. We usually hear about the carbon emissions of the airline industry and that we need to choose other travel methods if possible. Sometimes, however, flying is the only way to reach a destination. So, if you fly to Greece, try to choose a non-stop flight.
If you're traveling as a group, for instance, your family and your friends' families, you could choose to drive and make your holiday a road trip. Indeed, this is what many of the country's Balkan neighbors do. They drive from their country to Greece, which is also more cost-effective. You'll be surprised to know though that if you travel by yourself, it's more sustainable to fly than to drive.
Other alternatives include renting a hybrid or electric car when you arrive in Greece or using public transport, such as buses or trains. In big cities, like Athens , public transport is fast and runs regularly. In fact, most residents prefer to take the metro than to get stuck in traffic for hours.
A considerable number of hotel and guesthouses' owners have embraced the eco-tourism concept and are encouraging their guests to adopt it too. There's even a green hotel union in Greece, which has hundreds of members all over the country. In the list of green accommodation, you can find from five-star hotels to more traditional agro-tourist units.
If you wish to fully immerse yourself in the experience, agrotourism will make you a part of the everyday life of the farm owners. You'll help them with activities, such as seeing how they harvest the land, how they do livestock farming and help them with household errands. This common type of living will take you back to the time when people lived as simply as they could.
If you have imagined a more relaxing vacation, then you can choose a hotel. Don't hesitate to discuss with the owners about their green vision and how they apply it in practice. Do they use solar power and energy-saving light bulbs? Does its staff consist of local people? Do they use local products to prepare meals? How do they support the local economy? These and more are the questions you can ask to learn more about the sustainable methods that lodgings use.
Greece, although a relatively small country, has a very diverse landscape; crystal clear beaches and high rugged mountains, verdant flatland, lakes, rivers, and many many beautiful untouched rural areas.
In the beautiful island of Corfu, in Arillas village there's a great green initiative. Green Corfu is a travel agency that combines accommodation, festivals, and other activities that all aim to bring you closer to the natural legacy of this land. All year-round, they organize events, such as yoga classes and other art and music activities. You'll be introduced to a new side of island life that will offer you a life-changing experience.
Similar initiatives and small tour operators are to be found in every corner of Greece. Travel agencies of this kind not only aim to have a low environmental impact but also approach tourists in a friendlier and more personal manner. Most often, small scale travel agencies don't put money first. Instead, they focus on offering you the best holiday experience possible, which will welcome you to the local community and the natural reserves.
Greece is full of national parks, and you'll have the unique opportunity to come in contact with the wild nature. Your local guide will show you how to move around in these areas where wild animals inhabit. No other tourist guide tours will help you gain such a deep understanding of the rich natural resources of Greece.
Buying local products, it's not only one of the basic principles of sustainable tourism. We all as tourists, whether we consider ourselves green travelers or not, like to purchase local products to bring back home a keepsake from our vacations. Especially if you don't know if you'll ever visit Greece again, you should definitely buy a typical Greek souvenir. By souvenirs, we don't only mean a magnet for your fridge or a cheap key holder. Greece is known for its handmade products made from pure local resources, such as olive oil, soaps, wine, and many traditional food products, like pasta, jams, honey and more.
If you are an art collector, Greece is proud of its rich cultural heritage and its inspired artisans. There's no doubt that wherever you find yourself in Greece, in a rural village, in an island, or a mountainous region, you'll find small shops owned by local artisans. They are usually painters, woodcarvers, potters or jewelery, accessories and clothes designers.
Most of these shops are family-owned, so by purchasing items from these vendors you support the local economy. You'll also be amazed by the warm-heartedness of the locals who are always in a mood to chat and share with you some amusing stories about their origins and traditions. Last but not least, remember to bring with you or buy a reusable bag instead of plastic bags.
Green tourism is of course all about respecting the environment, but it's also about reconnecting with mother nature. What a better way to do that than by engaging in some outdoor activities that fill you with adrenaline and excitement! It's not a surprise that in recent years, many Greeks gave up their well-paid jobs to dedicate themselves in the tourist excursions industry. Their purpose is to prove to foreigners that their vacation plan can include way more things than just spending the whole day on a sunbed at the beach.
There's more to that, and you can find it by trying sports like kayaking and rafting in the rivers, hiking in the mountains and forest, mountain biking, and many more. Usually, there's no need to have a high skill level to do any of these activities. Your guide will offer you all the safety instructions you need to know and be there to take care of you whenever needed. Activities like hiking can also be combined with picking up waste and contributing to keeping the environment clean. Similarly, many volunteer organizations welcome anyone who would like to help clean the beaches and the sea.
Mass tourism is the 'heavy industry' of Greece that boasts the economy and lowers unemployment rates. At the same time, however, it has an irreversible negative impact on the environment. It's up to every one of us, travelers, hotel owners, tour operators, agencies, and whoever else is related to the tourism industry, to choose for more eco-friendly tactics. With these 5 tips, you can become a more environmentally conscious traveler and encourage others to follow your lead.
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We are Jacob and Taylor. Travel is our passion and we love sharing our experiences here at The Travelling Souk. Our hope is that you would be inspired by this little blog to try something new, embrace an adventure, and live life to the fullest.