Three days of activity, sharing and innovation took place between May 13th and 15th, 2022, as part of the Incircle program. The three days of circular tourism on Aegina island was aimed at highlighting ways and practices that lead to local communities’ relief from the issues created by the sudden increase in population due to tourism. The action was realized with the support of CIVINET Greece-Cyprus and was organized by the Region of Attica, with the Municipality of Aegina, the Attica Islands Network, the Attica Cycling Community, the Kytherian Foundation for Culture and Development, our own initiative for the promotion of sustainable tourism in Poros, Troizina and Methana Ec(h)o, Katheti, and the specialized organization for hiking tourism Trace Your Eco as co-organizers.
Circular tourism and Incircle project
The three days of circular tourism on Aegina was realized as part of Interreg MED’s Incircle project. 14 partners from five different Mediterranean countries collaborate in this project.
How can we counter the increased demands on water, energy, waste and transportation created by the otherwise welcome tourism? How can we achieve economic growth without depleting our natural resources and degrading our living conditions? Incircle seeks answers to these questions through the circular economy model.
The experience on Aegina
The three days of circular tourism on Aegina island included hiking at the island’s traditional footpaths, walking in the city, swimming and cycling. In addition, an informative discussion and presentations by the participating organizations took place.
A common finding, through discussions and exchange of experiences, was the need for a new market of supply and demand. Our islands need conscious visitors, who respect what they find and think about what they will leave behind. However, in order to attract such visitors, it is necessary to tailor tourism businesses character and facilities accordingly.
Fay Orfanidou describing her experience from the three days event states: “Here do I focus? On the interesting conversations, on the new encounters with like-minded people, on the exciting activities? If I were to hold on to one image from these three days, it would be two 2,000 years old olive trees: We circled the one joining our hands around it and the other circled us with her old, wise body. Nature is full of curves and the shape of the circle is the basis of circular tourism.”
Tasos Rodis tells us: “In the course of the three days I had the opportunity to taste what circular tourism and economy mean. It was a three-day event in which I met interesting people during cycling, hiking and relaxing conversations near nature. At the same time, I saw beautiful and special parts of Aegina, which most tourists have not even imagined they exist on the island. I would do it again with great pleasure.”
The path to a sustainable future
We have reached a point where a change of course, in order to ensure a sustainable future, is now imperative. This is why Katheti is looking for new ideas and practices. We seek answers to how we can protect our natural and cultural heritage, our landscape, our identity and at the same time upgrade our living conditions and prosper as a community. Circular tourism, the “Smart Villages”, the Project Resound workshops and the sustainable tourism model for Poros, Troizinia and Methana highlight effective practices and provide answers to these questions.