The first village is Arnaia, in Halkidiki, which was included on CNN’s list of Greece’s most beautiful villages in 2019.
In response to being selected to represent Greece at the UNWTO, the mayor of the municipality of Aristotelis, Halkidiki, said: “We make systematic use of all the comparative advantages of our region and take every opportunity to promote the municipality. Being selected to take part in this initiative will bring new fame to the region, blessed with mountains and a breathtaking coastline, and further highlight this beautiful village.”
The Tourism Ministry’s working group, which was established by the Deputy Minister Sofia Zacharaki, also selected Fiskardo on Kefalonia to represent Greece.
The third village is Perdika, Thesprotia, which belongs to the Municipality of Igoumenitsa. With a resident population of around 3,500 inhabitants and 30km from Igoumenitsa, the village is located between Parga and Sivota, built on a hill and in front of enchanting beaches.
According to the UN’s World Tourism Organization, the “Best Tourism Villages” initiative aims to highlight villages around the world where tourism actively preserves the local culture and traditions, celebrates diversity, provides opportunities, and protects biodiversity. In addition, by distinguishing the villages that are excellent examples of tourist destinations with cultural and natural advantages, the initiative engages the World Tourism Organization as an active partner in ongoing efforts for their sustainable development.
A further aim of the initiative is to highlight excellent examples of destinations for agrotourism. The Greek Ministry of Tourism is participating in the competition for the second consecutive year and is especially keen to promote agrotourism in areas with a population of up to 15,000 inhabitants, based on the principles of sustainable development.
The competition is developed on three levels: a) the award of the “Best Tourism Village” label, b) participation in the upgrade program for the nominations that did not win the above distinction, c) admission to the global network of “Best Tourism Villages.”
At last year’s competition, the initiative’s first, Greece achieved two great distinctions, with Soufli in the Evros region winning the “best tourism village,” and the municipality of western Samos securing a place in the upgrade program.
The Deputy Minister of Tourism in charge of special forms of tourism, Sofia Zacharaki, stated:
“I welcome this year’s Greek nominations. Agrotourism can play an important role in the national economy, in the local communities, in the preservation of the traditional way of life, in the strengthening of the primary sector, in the promotion of the cultural and natural wealth of a region, but also in the creation of new, well-paid jobs, which will make our young people want to stay and create in their homeland. For our part, we strategically strengthen agrotourism and the Greek tourism brand by highlighting the distinctive and authentic identity and the elements that compose it.
We are working hard – together with local government authorities and the local communities – and we are optimistic that we will repeat our last year’s triumph, which led to the selection of Soufli on the list of ‘best tourism villages’ and western Samos in the upgrade program of the World Tourism Organization.”
This article was previously published in Greek at moneyreview.gr.