Sustainable Greece is making news – and not just because BlogTrotters last year featured its successful sustainable tourism practices in support of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, but because the Greek Millennial generation is choosing to incorporate sustainability into their careers.
In Greece, this generation is quickly shedding the “traditional ladders” of success by leaving their Athenian lives and jobs with its “debt, pollution, overcrowding, and noise” as Eleni from HandPicked Greece said, and instead choosing to live and start a business either on their ancestral family home or flocking to islands such as Crete, which has experienced a resurgence in international arrivals.
What struck some of our clients the most when Greenloons featured its inaugural farm-to-table tour of Crete last year was that these same young people were choosing to found and manage sustainable businesses. Whether it was natural soap making or natural cosmetics or cooking classes on their family farms, the general sentiment was getting out of the rat race or remembering what is truly important in life, namely health, family, good friends, and a life of purpose.
Take, for example, the small businesses in Crete that benefited from our tour. In addition to providing a full-day cooking class replete with musical performances and wine tastings at the Olive Farm (also managed by Millennials), we provided a donation that enabled the manager of Hand Picked to purchase a distillery in order to expand production. We provided breakfast items, snacks, and wines all from locally-owned Cretan businesses. As it was predominantly a culinary tour, we offered cooking classes at a local pastry shop, another on a family farm, and a tasting at a honey manufacturer. The group stayed at one of two villas, which were remodeled with local materials and some cases with family heirloom furniture thereby lowering the percentage of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions typically expended when compared to staying at a hotel.
The initiative we took on this tour, and with all our Green Vacation Collection tours, reminds me of a similar community effort in Newfoundland, Canada that just introduced the concept of the Economic Nutrition Label. Essentially, the label communicates to visitors how much of their money goes toward staff compensation and benefit distributions versus operations, marketing, and agent commission.
It’s a fabulous concept rooted in better understanding the ingredients in our foods taken to the next step with a graphical representation of what our vacations consist of – so that we all understand better what our money supports.
See more examples of sustainability on the islands of Alonissos (video below) and Hydra.