What’s the point of being in Crete and having an English breakfast? As odd as it may seem, over the years, most hotels have succumbed to the all-inclusive trend and forsaken local identity. European cuisine, events featuring imported music, karaoke, cinema, and other internationalized offerings have been become standard package features for holidaymakers whether in Greece or elsewhere.
Reacting to the trend, 14 tourism-sector entrepreneurs active in Crete, the country’s largest and most fertile island, have opted, in their own words, to “bring Crete into the hotels.”
This group of tourism professionals believes tourists of today are acquiring a greater interest in local ways, noting that an international trend has developed and is being met by many hotel enterprises looking to stand out in the market.
Their line of thinking led to the establishment of We Do Local, a certification standard offered to tourism sector enterprises. The initiative’s objective is to promote enterprises that support and promote local culture, tradition and gastronomy.
To become members of the We Do Local community, hotels, as an initial requirement, must be supplied raw materials by local producers and offer local cuisine.
For example, Cretan breakfast may include yogurt, honey, fried apaki (smoked pork) instead of bacon, local pies, traditional syrup-soaked sweets, lamb or goat’s milk, kaltsounia (Cretan sweet pastries), herbal teas, xerotigana (fried sweet pastry) and, naturally, local cheese products, such as myzithra topped with honey.The We Do Local appraisal team also examines whether hotels employ local staff and are showcasing regional customs. In addition, tourism enterprises need to apply environmentally friendly practices, such as the recycling and usage of eco-friendly cleaning products, in order to qualify.
To date, 23 Cretan hotels and two ships from the ANEK Lines company have been awarded We Do Local certificates. The initiative has already begun offering considerable support to Cretan producers. The We Do Local team is now preparing to promote its concept nationwide. It also faces the challenge of making its certification standard recognizable among tourists.