Accessible Travel in Greece | Hydra, Greece © Allie Murray
By Allie Murray
Greece has long been a go-to destination for travellers seeking the beauty and bliss the Mediterranean has to offer. Now, Greece is making two important changes to make their country better for locals and tourists alike.
Following trends of sustainability, Greece is putting a focus on sustainable travel and making the country more green. Similarly, they have partnered with Seatrac to make their beaches more accessible for travellers with low mobility by installing ramps and chairs on more than 200 beaches across the country.
The way the solar-powered chairs work is simple: at each site, a wooden walkway leads to the chair set on a single track. The user would transfer themselves into the recliner and drive the chair into the water. Once in the sea, they can lift themselves out of the chair, then return to the chair for the trip back to the docking station.
The installation of the Seatrac devices has been instrumental for travellers with mobility issues, so much so that the devices have been installed in neighbouring countries, including Italy and Cyprus.
“Seatrac does not provide only independent access to the sea, it provides dignity and independence to people with mobility issues that want to enjoy swimming,” explained Ignatios Fotiou, one of the inventors of the device. “They can choose where to go and ask their friends to join them, not the other way around.”
Fotiou shared with The Washington Post that the company plans to expand within Europe and further—noting that officials in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Spain and Croatia have expressed interest.
To help travellers plan their vacation, Seatrac has created an interactive map and beach directory, which showcases the beaches with the devices installed.
Sustainability in Greece At The Forefront
From a survey conducted in 2022 by Statista, more than 80 percent of global travellers said that sustainable tourism is important to them—these numbers have created a ripple effect for tourism boards worldwide—including in Greece. To emphasize their sustainability message, the Greek Tourism Board launched a new sustainable hub called Sustainable Greece, which focuses on five things: best practices, future green projects, sustainable initiatives, sustainable experiences, and sustainable holidays.
Notably, many of the Greek islands are leading the way in sustainable tourism. One of which includes Hydra, an isle in the Aegean Sea that has no motorized vehicles. The inhabited area of the island is small enough that it’s easy to walk, however there are transportation means offered by mules, donkeys, and water taxis.
With more than 220 islands scattered throughout the Aegean Sea, Greece already has countless initiatives underway to bring more sustainable tourism to the islands. Some of these include: FoodTreasure in Thessaloniki, an environmental action project focused on reducing and repurposing food waste in the area; in Corfu, they are upcycling sails, kits and parachutes with Salty Bag, an initiative that uses the material to create low-impact bags that are designed to last a lifetime; in Kimolos, browse through the famous boat libraries, made from old boats and placed along beaches to encourage beachgoers to pick up a book, and even leave one behind; and more.
Similarly, the Greek government launched the GR-Eco Islands Initiative with the aim of transforming the islands into energy-independent communities. The first island to spearhead this initiative is Halki. To become energy-independent, the initiative installed a solar-powered electricity grid, which is now producing 1.8 gigawatts of electricity per year. The model has proven so successful—making electricity bills in some households on the island now zero euros—that the model will be transferred to other Greek islands.
In 2023, Greece is expecting their tourism to grow by 20 percent—making it higher than last year’s tourism, which was one of the best in the country’s history due to the wavering of COVID-19 restrictions. With the uptick in travelers, the region wants to ensure that tourists visiting are doing so in a responsible and sustainable way.
In time for this summer’s tourism, the TUI Group and the South Aegean Region launched the Rhodes Co-Lab, a project that’s dedicated to turning Rhodes into a sustainable tourist destination. The project includes more than 25 initiatives and actions towards reaching their goal.
With countless islands to choose from—each one with their own sustainability and accessibility goals—planning a summer vacation in Greece is a simple way to travel responsibly.
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