The Ministry of Tourism and Google have announced their cooperation for the acceleration of the green and sustainable transformation of the Greek tourism industry, within the framework of the Delphi Economic Forum. The collaboration includes the creation of a new training program for small and medium-sized tourism enterprises, in collaboration with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). At the same time, Google has announced $1 million in funding from Google.org to support organizations that help social enterprises in Greece, with an emphasis on sustainability and ecotourism.
The transition of the Greek tourism industry to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly development model is a key priority in dealing with the inevitable consequences of the climate crisis. According to a new survey conducted by the Institute for Tourism Research and Forecasting (ITEP) on behalf of Google and the Hotel Chamber of Greece, three out of four hotel owners consider the implementation of sustainability practices crucial for the future of their business, with 79% expressing interest in obtaining viability certification. However, only 41% consider their level of knowledge about sustainability practices to be satisfactory.
Based on the above findings, the new training program of the Ministry of Tourism and Google, in cooperation with the GSTC, will start in April and will be available free of charge. Its aim is to support small and medium-sized tourism enterprises on their path to sustainable development. Key features of the program, which is a new pillar of Google’s “Grow Greece with Google” initiative, are the effective communication by companies of their environmental actions, the creation of a strategy for sustainability, the acquisition of sustainability certification, the exploration of funding sources for small and medium enterprises and tourism businesses, learning best practices for energy and water saving, and waste management.
In addition, Google.org, Google’s charitable arm, is providing $1 million in funding to support organizations that help run under-represented communities focusing on sustainable solutions and ecotourism in Greece. This support is coming at the right time, as, according to a Euromonitor survey, more than 70% of travelers around the world were more interested in sustainable travel options in 2021 (compared to 2020) and are now seeking to continue them. Through careful selection of projects by one or more beneficiaries, which will be announced later this year, funding from Google.org will ensure that social entrepreneurs from under-represented communities and remote areas of Greece have the opportunity to participate in creating effective solutions that will benefit their communities.
The Minister of Tourism, Vassilis Kikilias, stated: “Our strategy for turning the country into a sustainable tourism model, in addition to government actions to achieve the goals of sustainability, is going through similar partnerships to the one we announce today with Google. Through the education program, tourism professionals will also share this effort, while the commitment to strengthen institutions and social enterprises that deal with sustainability will mobilize wider groups in a joint effort for the future of Greek tourism.”
For his part, Google’s President for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Matt Brittin, said: “Sustainable tourism has never been more important – for both travelers and the planet. This transition, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, is complicated, which is why we support it in practice through our products, initiatives and the funding we offer. Our cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism is based on our broader commitment to support sustainable development in Greece.”
According to GSTC CEO Randy Durband, “in order for tourism businesses to operate on a sustainable basis, their staff needs to be aware of what this means and be committed to continually expanding and improving their knowledge. In this regard, the GSTC is particularly pleased to support Google’s efforts to offer such opportunities to the tourism industry. “
This article was previously published in Greek at moneyreview.gr.