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“Growth based on values”

The Taste Crete project of the TUI Care Foundation was presented to relevant policy makers in Brussels. The event was introduced by Anna Athanasopoulou, Head of the Tourism Unit at the European Commission, who highlighted the project as setting an example on how to bring economic and social value to local communities via tourism development.

After a successful international presentation at the ITB earlier this year, our “Taste Crete” project was introduced to European policy makers during an event celebrated in Brussels on July 3rd. The event was opened with a keynote by Ms Anna Athanasopoulou, Head of the Tourism Unit at the European Commission.

During her opening remarks, Ms. Athanasopoulou highlighted: “The reason why I decided to come here this evening on behalf of the European Commission, is the fact that the very principles behind this project supported by the TUI Care Foundation are very close and very relevant to what we are doing at the European Commission and to a number of policy debates about tourism and sustainability in different corners of Europe.”

Referring more broadly to the role of sustainable tourism initiatives, she mentioned: “For us and for the E.U. Tourism Policy, sustainable and responsible tourism is one of our key priorities and tonight we are lucky to be looking more closely at a project that speaks about that: how tourism can build on local assets, how tourism can connect with local businesses and actually drive social change, bringing economic and social value to the communities. This is a super interesting example; we commend the TUI Care Foundation for setting this example, and we would like to see more of that. We would like to see more examples coming from the tourism industry really bringing growth based on values.”

Mr. Jost Neumann, Head of Strategic Programmes at TUI Care Foundation, said: “Connecting holidaymakers with products and services fromrural areas is important, particularly on islands, it improves livelihoods by creating access to new markets.” He gave an introduction to the strategic approach of the Foundation to further develop local value chains via the tourism industry. Falling within the international TUI Cares programme and strategy, Taste Crete fosters strong and constructive bonds between visitors to the destination, relevant stakeholders operating in the local tourism industry and local producers. The project supports local producers in further developing their business networks, raising their products standards and diversifying their commercial strategies – by, for example, developing tours and excursions attractive to tourists which serve as platforms to promote their products. Together, they build on their potential to add value by adopting more sustainable cultivation and production practices, whilst also protecting the island’s cultural heritage. Finally, the project works on raising awareness among visitors and public representatives through events such as the one celebrated last Wednesday in Brussels. Taste Crete has supported 190 farmers on up to 300 hectares of land, delivering products such as wine and olive oil to 7 hotels. For instance, the wine that is being produced in light of the project, has seen a growth rate of 7.4% among hotels during the last year only.

The aim of the evening was to give European policymakers a vivid illustration of sustainable tourism and how this positively impacts on local communities and the environment. The event also provided the opportunity for networking and discussions on how the EU can work towards more sustainability, particularly  in the tourism sector, during the next mandate.

Mr Andreas Koch, Managing Director of blueContec, also gave some insights into the general set-up of the project and highlighted how it could form an important example for other tourism destinations to follow. And last but not least, Ms Angeliki Iatrou, Communications Manager of Michalakis Estate Winery [insert link], one of the local wine producers supported by the project, illustrated how the project benefits their daily operations and positively affects the livelihoods of those working on the ground.