A group of three Greek hospitality experts has formed a company called Orama Hospitality, aimed at taking over the management of several beachfront resorts in Zanzibar.
Hype. Has it gotten us anywhere? In the travel and hospitality industry, disappointing travelers and guests is always about unmet expectations. However, mediocre travel experiences are the least of our industry’s worries. Unfortunately, travel, tourism, and hospitality are about to hit a wall, and all the puffery over trendy ideas like “sustainability” won’t cut it before long. Soon,
industry professionals will have to take a long hard look at how we will operate in the future.
Looking at all the problems we face today, it’s easy to see where business is going. All the hype and mistakes we’ve made over the last few decades will leave even the most gifted public relations superstar helpless, advertisers broke, and marketing firms labeled as the scourge. The reason is simple, right in front of our eyes. Business, as usual, cannot go on. If this industry is to survive, there is a lot we need to fix. And “sustaining” what we are doing right now, in every sector of business and policy, will only ruin us at a slower rate than before. The good news is; however, there are viable solutions.
I’ve been doing a lot of studies recently, mainly concerning the ideas of economist and capital investor John Fullerton. The former JPMorgan investment guru who wrote “Regenerative Capitalism: How Universal Patterns and Principles Will Shape the New Economy.” The Capital Institute’s founder and the Regenerative Economics architect, Fullerton, works to create an evolutionary shift in consciousness from “Modern Age thinking,” to “Integral Age thinking.”
We’ve no space to discuss his initiatives, companies, and investments, but the point is simple. Ideas like “eco-friendly” or “sustainability” have not and will not work long term. Taking the island of Crete, where we live, as an example – efforts at sustainability have only been made when they suit past economic schemes. Or, in other words, where hotels or other businesses can save revenue or get a monetary incentive (tax break, etc.). Crete is, in the words of a Cretean environmentalist friend, “burnt.” One of the most spectacular destinations on Earth, and the fifth biggest island in the Mediterranean, is being degraded at an alarming rate. And my friend and I are not the only ones saying this.
John Vourdoubas of the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania published a report in the International Journal of Global Sustainability (Macrothink Institute) in 2020 entitled “An Appraisal of Over-tourism on the Island of Crete, Greece,” which warns of the dire need for action. Here is an excerpt: “The island of Crete is an attractive and popular tourist destination in the Eastern Mediterranean basin, and it is currently ranked among the ten most overcrowded EU tourism NUTS-2 regions. This fact could threaten and harm the fragile natural ecosystems in the island resulting in the decline of the prosperous tourism industry in the future.”
I could list dozens of experts giving warnings like this here, but the reader can use Google to discover where we are environmentally and concerning economies. My point here can be made by pointing to the “sustainability” course the Region of Crete (press release in Greek) is still navigating. Readers will be amused that the title of a mini-summit held some days ago starts with “Choose Crete 2023.”
Furthermore, for those interested enough, you can scan PDF, after PDF of corporate sustainability reports from Crete resorts, olive growers, and other businesses. What you’ll find will surprise you, especially if you are a public relations professional. The bottom line for Crete and much of Greece is the old way is the only way still. As ironic as Cretan determinism for business may be, a compelling case in far-off Zanzibar, initiated by Greek, is a method to watch. New ideas are not selling in Santorini, on Crete, or in most of the rest of Europe, to be honest. So, a move to an underdeveloped market like Africa makes a lot of sense if you are looking at a long-term investment. And especially if you’ve been hitting your head against a rock in Greece.
A group of three Greek hospitality experts has formed a company called Orama Hospitality, aimed at taking over the management of several beachfront resorts in Zanzibar. The Greeks chose Zanzibar for several reasons. First, Zanzibar is a less mature market than Crete, Cyprus, or Santorini. This means the system and the environment there are not as “locked in” on development, economic, or environmental ideas as in the Greek islands. For the Director of Orama, George Kotronis, and his partners, this spells “opportunity.”
Trying to practice regenerative tourism development in Zanzibar will be much easier than in more mature markets. This is especially true in Crete, where most Greek businesspeople envision being like American billionaires rather than recreating legendary systems like the ancient Minoans. Without a brilliant guiding principle or genius monetary model, directing Crete’s development away from “Modern Age” economics is impossible. Orama Hospitality believes that operating F-Zeen Boutique Hotel Zanzibar, Zoe Hotel Zanzibar, and other unique resorts in Zanzibar with regenerative tourism principles in place can serve as such an example. I phoned Kotronis when I heard about a visit by a couple of dozen Greeks to Zanzibar to learn more about their vision.
“Our team has been in this game in Greece for several decades. We’ve been winning revenue for clients but losing ground convincing owners and investors there has to be a better way. As you may know, F-Zeen, or εὖ ζῆν (pronounced F-Zeen in ancient Greek), is what the Greeks call the good life. And the good life, good business practice, especially in the future, won’t be about short-term monetary gain.”
For many visionaries, the essence of what John Fullerton professes is the only viable solution to humanity’s apparent problems. Zanzibar is an ideal place to create a template for success. Stakeholders are already moving to regenerate and rejuvenate the tourism business there. The Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors (ZATI) rebranded the island’s tourism potential, and officials are open to regenerative enterprises: “For every thinking person, the good life goes far beyond the material comforts imposed by the times. As much as we don't believe it, we ourselves define the way and quality of our lives. Our well-being lies and must lie in our inner peace, way of thinking, choices, and ambitions. All this will only be achieved through the individual effort of each one to improve the conditions of his life, to educate himself to think positively , to help his fellow man, to find alternative ways not only to survive in this hard time but also to live well and as he deserves.”
Finally, the gist of my report here is that the forms of development we’ve been practicing will eventually lead to the ruination of the places we’ve held as sacred paradises. Moreover, the broader sense of capitalism, as we’ve operated since after World II, has been an absolute disaster. I encourage readers to scan the library of Fullerton’s Capital Institute here. I especially recommend The Empathic Civilization by Jeremy Rifkin, which explores something known as “distributive capitalism,” which promotes the idea of bio-energy and other sectors places like Zanzibar (or Crete) are well suited for. As for Orama Hospitality’s plans, I hope to get back to them and report on their progress.
Phil is a prolific technology, travel, and news journalist and editor. An engineer by trade, he is a partner in one of Europe’s leading PR and digital marketing firms, Pamil Visions PR.
He’s also a Huffington Post contributor on many topics, a travel and tech writer for The Epoch Times in print and online, and for several magazines including Luxurious.
Phil also contributes regularly to TravelDailyNews, The official Visit Greece Blog, and is an analyst for Russia Today and other media.
His firm has done all the content for Time Magazine’s top travel site Stay.com, as well as other online travel portals such as Vinivi out of France. He’s also a very influential evangelist of social media and new digital business, with a network of some of the most notable business people therein.