Volunteerism and ecotourism join forces in Crete with 260 French and Belgian ”eco-visitors”who offer their services through ecotourism activities.
Specifically, 260 consultants from a large French company active in the field of cleaning with ecological products in France and Belgium, under the name “H2O at home”, were engaged in two parallel ecotourism actions in nature around the village of Meronas in the Municipal Department of Amari.Divided into two main groups of 130 people and smaller sub-groups with a different scope of action, the participating French and Belgian eco-tourists offered their voluntary services.
According to George Tsakalakis, Director of the Ecotourism Enterprise “Wild Nature” “The aim of the project from the beginning was to “raise awareness among the local population of the importance of ecotourism in a rural area, the power of collective action and volunteerism, but above all to set an example to keep young people in the countryside through alternative, sustainable forms of tourism ventures” that could gain ground and multiply in the near future with multiple benefits.
Or else, how a rural area at the western boundaries of the Psiloritis Geopark with a great historical and folklore interest, but also with basic existing infrastructure for the reception of visitors (small agrotourism accommodations, a mountain camping site – unique in Crete – and hospitable family taverns), can, through the creation of tour conditions (hiking and cycling routes) and complementary observation projects (botanical gardens, information points, landscape viewing and interpretation points, etc. etc.), to attract a particular type of quality tourism called ‘ecotourism’.
Tourists volunteers together with residents of Meron and Amari, as Mr Tsakalakis says, during the two days of action, a total of 90 vineyards, 120 fruit trees and 150 aromatic plants were planted, while 10 different routes of naturalistic interest were marked, developing a total of 62 kilometres of paths and dirt roads. “And according to a statement made by H2O representatives to the managers of Wild Nature, they felt “justified and proud that such an original project was awarded to the island of Crete and not to some other region of Europe”.
The reason? The general acceptance and spontaneous embrace of the idea by so many different actors, including ordinary farmers and the community of Merona, the Church, the Municipality and the local Cultural Associations.”