TUI Greece looks to local food and drink producers

TUI Greece looks to local food and drink producers

TUI has announced that its visitor numbers to Greece have increased to around 2.5 million this summer, making it the second most important destination for the TUI Group after Spain. With increasing numbers of its own hotels, and a new “Robinson Club” all-inclusive resort planned for Crete, Greece is targeted for continued growth. To make that growth sustainable, there are plans to develop the island of Crete as a showcase for sustainable catering as part of the TUI Group tourism ethos. The TUI Care Foundation is supporting a project in Crete which brings together the important economic sectors of tourism, agriculture and wine-growing. Under the name “TUI Cares for Crete”, the foundation is networking local producers with hoteliers and the tourism sector.

International hotel groups, and the all-inclusive sector, have been criticised for often bypassing local communities and supply chains, and using staff, materials and food and drink imported from elsewhere, decreasing economic benefit to local areas. But with local food, drink and crafts a potential selling point for a region, and a way of making a resort or destination more distinctive, there are good business reasons for developing local supply networks, and integrating tourism operations with food and drink producers. The objective of the joint project on Crete is to link the island’s most important economic factors – tourism and agriculture. The project is supported by the Greek Ministry of Tourism and the regional government of Crete, and links the tourist industry to local wine and olive growers and wineries.

The focus of the project is on the two main products of Crete – wine and olive oil – and ecological cultivation and processing methods. In addition, seven traditional Cretan vines are particularly promoted by the production of local wines. In order to allow visitors to visit local production sites and have direct contacts with the wine and olive-growers, an innovative and interactive excursion program is being developed. Awareness and communication measures accompany the project.

In the long term, the aim is to improve regional food quality and quantity in holiday hotels, to reduce the negative environmental impacts of agriculture and to strengthen the local economy. In addition, guests will benefit from an expanded regional menu in hotels and on excursions.

“The project shows how great the potential of tourism is for local value creation and employment in the holiday country. In order that everyone benefits from this – guests, local businesses and the local population – a close networking of the economy, agriculture and the tourism sector is important. We need to develop a common understanding of what guests value when visiting a holiday destination. And in the tourism industry we need to promote the fact that we are open to local products, influences and experiences. We are bringing this together in our project for sustainable agriculture and sustainable holidays in Crete”, says Thomas Ellerbeck, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the TUI Care Foundation.

Among the papers on the Leisure Tourism database on local food and tourism, Boesen et al. (2017) examine why local food networks succeed or fail in collaborating with local tourism actors to create more tourism based on local food. Six local food networks and their collaboration with local tourism actors are studied by using observation supplemented with other qualitative methods. Success most often comes when both parties want to support the local community and brand it. Bjork and Kauppinen-Raisanen (2016) discuss local food as a source for destination attraction, suggesting that local food attracts travellers and contributes to the tourist experience, indicating marketing potential for hospitality industries, tourism business and regional development.

Two papers by Thomas-Francois et al. (2017) suggest that there are opportunities for tourism policies that foster local food linkages with high-end accommodation properties as a strategy to spread the economic spin off from tourism and also to encourage youth involvement in sustainable tourism development. Instead of the traditional cost-driven transactional management of hotel supply chains, a service-oriented farmers-hotel supply chain is proposed which places a greater value on local food as it becomes part of the visitors’ service experience.

Lee and Slocum (2015) explore the viability of sourcing local food to the meetings industry. Dougherty and Green (2011) report on the central role of word-of-mouth in linking farmers and restauranteurs through local food tourism networks. In a paper so far only published online, Roy et al. (2017) examine the role of trust and personal relationships among tourism stakeholders (restaurants and chefs, wholesale distributors, and local farmers and/or farmers’ market vendors) in the purchase of local foods.

First published by CABI.

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