It's all about the exrience



Last October Emmy & I went to Crete for an excursion. For two weeks we enjoyed this beautiful island. In those two weeks we spoke with many people on the island and visited many places. We visited a conservation project in Messara Valley. One of our guides told us about the work of Greentours. A couple of months later, I interviewed Eleni, the owner and George, one of the two guides about their tours and (eco)tourism on Crete.

Greentour is a company that wants to promote ecotourism on Crete. Today people from all over the world come to Crete for a wonderful experience in nature. Eleni wants to show them and the people from Crete an alternative way of tourism. Currently, Crete is mainly known for Chersonissos, its resorts and its beaches. Eleni and George want to show people the other and unknown side of Crete: the beautiful nature, local communities, immense biodiversity and its culture. According to them, these things make Crete unique. They want to support people to explore this wonderful side of Crete.  They hope Crete will become more famous for its ecotourism and they feel that the switch from conventional to ecotourism is necessary both for the environment and Greek economy, because ecotourism is a sustainable revenue model. It preserves local music, history and culture and promotes nature conservation. Another goal of their tours is to help the local community.

Eleni works together with two guides. One of them, George,  works several years for Greentours now. He quit his studies about computer science to become a tour guide. The beautiful nature and meeting interesting people are the things he likes most about his job.

According to Eleni and George ecotourism is about the experience. Greentour works together with many different local organizations. During their tours all the food is produced locally to reduce the travel kilometers of their food.  Nature conservation is also an important goal, they participate in several nature conservation programs. Greentour also involves local shepherd communities in their tours. The tours are designed together with the shepherds. Eleni only works together with traditional farmers because she sees them as authentic. As it requires a lot of time to build a relationship, this is not always easy. ‘You first have to prove trust to those communities but then they will become friends forever.’

For the future Eleni and George both hope that Crete will become an ecotourism destination. They want to create an open discussion on the island about the dream of  Cretan people for their country. Greentour wants to show that tourism can contribute to the lives of Cretan people.

by Mariëlle