International experts support Kythnos hiking efforts, see sustainable tourism

A series of international and Greek experts in sustainable tourism said they see Kythnos as the ideal place to promote hiking holidays, exploiting the island's natural beauty, its ancient history, its traditional culture, agriculture and cuisine.

Experts from Germany and the UK joined the voices of those from Greece to tell the Kythnos authorities and private players at a conference how they can exploit their island resources and boost a vibrant sector of tourism over a longer season.

"Kythnos is an amazing island. I welcome the effort for sustainable tourism, hiking, cultural tourism," Nicole Katsioulis, director of the Athens office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), German foundation, a sponsor of the conference.
Greek officials explained the scope for themed-walks, including about the iron ore mining legacy from 100 years ago; a culture ministry official identified the range or pre-historic and ancient archeological sites, including early copper mining.

Another speaker said gastronomy can be promoted while a local official said folk dance and music are key elements in  tourism.

After a visit to the Vryokastro ancient city excavation, German ramblers association official Liane Jordan explained how Kythnos could win European certification of its hiking trails with good signage, clear trails, information, and regular checks.

Cycladic island Andros has had its trails certified as well as mainland networks. Creating quality trails requires local volunteers, the involvement of all stakeholders, farmers, hotels, restaurants, map and brochure providers, Jordan said.

The certification process leaders are "usually volunteers, the municipality is one part of it," she said.

Tasos Anastasios, from the South Aegean region, said he is finalising the trail network on Kythnos, dealing with access issues and improvements of the signing.

Ian Stephen from England's Isle of Wight said his island promotes walking festivals, which gather increasing numbers of participants.