The 1st international scientific conference on tourism in Greece was organised by the University of the Aegean and was held at Homerean Culture…
The 1st international scientific conference on tourism in Greece was organised by the University of the Aegean and was held at Homerean Culture, Chios Island, Greece, the 14-16 of December 2000. The general theme was Tourism on islands and specific destinations, the president of the scientific committee was Professor Gerasimos Zacharatos (University of the Aegean) and the president of the organising committee was Associate Professor Paris Tsartas (University of the Aegean). The majority of the delegates were affiliated with universities, but some practitioners and tourism policy makers were also represented. The conference aimed to bring together all relevant stakeholders to discuss the significance and the future challenges of tourism on islands and specific destinations. The mixed audience of approximately 125 participants included representatives from many European countries as well as from the U.S.A. and Australia. This combination guaranteed lively and interesting discussions during the several joint panels and paper presentations. The official languages of the conference were English and Greek, and instant translation service was provided at a professional level.
In the opening ceremony, Gerasimos Zacharatos introduced the conference program and explained its aims and objectives while stressing the importance of tourism on islands and specific destinations for the 21st century. He explained that the present conference was organized within the framework of a thorough attempt to examine the tourism development of regions with specifications in location and development. The main target of the organizers was the examination of the characteristics and the developmental problems of two extended groups of regions: islands, and specific destinations (such as mountain areas, areas of rich cultural sources, areas of a sensitive natural and structured environment and other).
Without doubt, this conference proved to be a big, varied and excellently organised and administered event. The majority of papers focused on the imperatives of the continual dynamically changing environment of sustainable tourism development with emphasis on islands and diversified destinations. The papers were presented in one plenary and 22 parallel sessions grouped in the following major categories:
- a) Tourism development of islands and specific destinations: characteristics, specialities and problems.
- b) Special interest and alternative forms of tourism: their contribution to the development of islands and specific destinations.
- c) Management matters of natural and structured environment in the development process of islands and specific destinations.
- d) Human capacity and business activity of islands and specific destinations: employment market, education, and training.
- e) The role of new technologies in the development of islands and specific destinations.
- f) The tourist product of islands and specific destinations: matters of quality, management, marketing and promotion.
- g) Planning Matters and strategies for tourism development of islands and specific destinations.
- h) Tourism sustainability and development of islands and specific destinations: experience and examples.
- i) Management of coastal regions of islands.
In total there were presented 91 refereed papers. A compilation of all the paper presentations will be published by the University of the Aegean in CD-ROM format in February 2001.
The plenary session dealt with critically analysing the tourism development of small islands. H. Kokosis, G. Zacharatos and E. Briasouli of the University of the Aegean, Greece, discussed issues related to the sustainable tourism development of small islands. They particularly examined the contribution and the role of the local authorities of small communities in ensuring the sustainable tourism development of islands. M. Kozak (Sheffield Hallam University, England) concluded the session by presenting a relevant case study referring to the island of Mallorca in Spain.
Overall, the referred papers were thematically divided into 22 tracks and were presented during 12 parallel sessions: a) case studies of islands and specific destinations; b) local tourism development of special destinations; c) transportation and tourism development; d) geographical and technological issues of tourism development; e) tourism market and marketing; f) projects of tourism development for islands; g) sustainable development and ecotourism; h) island tourism development and sustainability through special products; i) case studies of island development and tourism; j) the contribution of new technologies in tourism development; k) tourism in agricultural and rural areas; l) the role of strategic tourism marketing; m) development of cultural tourism and design of theme parks; n) tourism development of Aegean sea islands; o) sustainable development in agricultural, island and urban areas; p) the role of tourism in sustainable development of small islands; q) the role of alternative forms of tourism in the development of island destinations; r) potential of alternative forms of tourism in Greece; s) intervention policies in tourism development; t) special destinations in islands; u) the role of planning for tourism development; and, v) sustainable tourism development and the protection of the environment.
The morning of the last day of the conference, Paris Tsartas and Gerasimos Zacharatos presented the conference conclusions and implications. They reported a synthesis of the contributions made by conference speakers and session discussions and concluded to a portfolio of agendas related to the future of tourism on islands and specific destinations:
- Intervention planning policies are required from local authorities, in order to ensure the viability and sustainability of tourism development; tourism development should not be left entirely to the initiatives of profit-oriented organisations.
- There is a need for further research in examining and developing alternative models for tourism planning, in order to achieve two objectives at the same time: sustainable development, and extension of the life-cycle for tourism products of small islands.
- There is a need for the development of more effective management models, both at macro and at micro level, to satisfy the requirements for sustainable tourism development of islands.
- New comprehensive legal and organisational frameworks should be developed, for protecting and conserving both the physical environment and the social structure of small islands, in the framework of sustainable tourism development.
- The application and further development of new technologies can assist in solving a number of problems associated with transportation, communications, and management of sustainable tourism in island destinations. However, the use of these technologies should be directed at providing equal benefits for both the local population and the incoming tourists.
The remaining of the last day he conference, all delegates were given an excittour around the island of Chios; most he d particularly enjoyed visits to very interesttraditional settlements of medieval origin and Byzantine churches and monasteries. The University he Aegean will publish a compila of all paper presentas in CD-ROM formatFebruary 2001.
Technological Educaal Institute of Thessaloniki
E-mail: ctou@.teithe.gr Marianna Sigala
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