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DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF WALKING AND BICYCLE TRAIL NETWORKS

«The cheapest investment in tourism!»

www.pathsofgreece.com

Introduction
The situation today and necessary steps towards quality tourism development Greece is a country which relies heavily on its tourism sector. The last decades, however, have seen tourist agencies and enterprises focusing their advertising efforts on the hot, short summer season, promoting low-cost, cheap quality services in exchange for quick profits. Especially in the last years, growing international competition has proven that this model is not only outdated but also has its environmental and economic cost. It is steadily becoming clear than in order to remain competitive, the Greek tourism industry must rethink its strategy: by placing priorities in the name of service quality, maintenance and conservation of our natural and historical wealth. The implementation of a comprehensive network of walking and cycling trails is an important step in the

The implementation of such a trail network achieves a threefold aim:

right direction, opening doors towards alternative, sustainable forms of tourism which both respect and nurture our natural, historical and social assets. And all that at the lowest imaginable cost! The implementation of such a trail network achieves a threefold aim:
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 Economic development: growing numbers of visitors who willingly pay more money for higher quality services

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Economic development: growing numbers of visitors who willingly pay more money for higher quality services Environmental protection: The paths help to enhance local natural biodiversity by limiting negative human impact Social development: educational character of trail implementation by creating an understanding for the value of natural resources and their management

 Environmental protection: The paths help to enhance local natural biodiversity by limiting negative human impact

A “comprehensive network for walking and cycling trails”
In contrast to unprofessional signposting attempts which often result in locally isolated, disorganized patterns, a comprehensively organised network entails professional marking, promotes and preserves the unique character of the local nature and history of a place, and is thus of immeasurable educational and cultural value to the whole community. Greece offers kilometers of trail routes: ranging from a simple walk through the countryside to a proper mountaineering excursion, a short bicycle excursion or an adrenaline-packed trip by Mountain Bike. Unfortunately, these trails are more often than not in a lamentable state: due to a general lack of organisation, the at best simply signposted trails are often incomplete and implemented in an environmentally destructive manner that presents a general aesthetic eyesore. The absence of any consistent maintenance allows these signages to deteriorate over the years, adding to their unfavourable impression. Finally, the majority of pathways are hardly known to the wider public, due to little or no publicity.

 Social development: educational character of trail implementation by creating an understanding for the value of natural resources and their management

A comprehensive trail network offers solutions to all of the above and can thus be considered a qualitative and sustainable touristic investment. The main aim of this project is to address a broader audience, also attracting visitors who are not familiar with these types of activities. First and foremost, the individual routes should be selected carefully within a trail network, taking care to combine unique landscapes with local historically and culturally interesting attractions. Also, while leading from one point of interest to the other, the trails should retain an informational and illustrative character.

The implementation of an integrated trail network offers:

 Extension of the tourist season

 Increased revenue per visitor

What can an integrated walking and cycling trail network offer to an area?
The installation of an integrated network of walking and cycling trails provides only positive effects for local communities. The benefits to be won include: a sustainable extension of the tourist season, a large influx in revenue through seasonally returning tourists, advertising and presentation of local natural and historical wealth, environmental education, and promotion of local products and culture.

 Promotion of natural and historical wealth

 Environmental education/awareness

 Promotion of local products and preservation of local cultural heritage

1) Extension of the tourist season
Depending on the accessibility and general infrastructural character (rooms etc) of a locality, the number of walkers and cyclists that are attracted per year is calculated to range from several hundred at first stage, reaching several thousand (up to 10,000 people) once the network is properly installed and advertised.

Of course it must be noted that attracting large crowd of visitors simultaneously can have the exact reverse effect on this type of traveler, who, in seeking out the privacy of nature, will feel “bothered” by the masses. Instead, by allowing each visitor to discover the natural beauty of a location individually, a medium-scale but steady (and thus sustainable) flow of tourism can be secured for each site.

2) Increased revenue per visitor
Visitors to walking and cycling paths are, for the largest part, people of moderate to high income, aged 30 and over. This category of tourists tends to lavish higher amounts on recreational purposes, a fact which must be met with the appropriate measures (customer-orientation, qualitative services and product offers)

Additionally, walking tourism is enjoying an increasing popularity among young vacationers, especially in combination with other sport activities such as mountain bike, climbing, canyoning, caving, sea kayak and water sports. Although younger tourists may not spend such large amounts in one stay, they nonetheless constitute a fast-growing percentage of the alternative tourism movement and remain an important key in advertising and word-to-mouth publicity, especially among peer groups.

3) Promotion of natural and historical wealth
The creation of a well-structured, integrated network of trails effectively highlights the unique richness of our country's flora and fauna. This approach allows the visitor to become immersed and intimately experience the natural environment without upsetting the often-fragile ecosystem balance. Informational wooden panels along the trail give interesting background information and insights into the landscape or variable local points of interest.

4) Environmental Education
Promoting an applied environmental approach to school education effectively bridges the gap between classroom learning and understanding the outdoor world. Students will greatly benefit from an organised handson approach that is framed by the educational fields of biology, history, and geology. In the long-term, this programme aims to create an awareness among local societies for the protection of nature, as well as its importance for their natural and cultural heritage.

5) Promotion of local products and preservation of local cultural heritage
Like most travellers, walkers and cyclers are not merely satisfied with discovering the hidden beauties of a place or its history. More often than not, they seek to come into contact with local people, their customs, traditions - and most importantly, their kitchen! Of course, local specialities in form of authentic souvenirs, sweets and home-grown produce are in high demand. After all, what better way to get to know a culture than through your stomach? A similar revival effect can also be predicted for local festivals, bazars and traditions which are sadly running the very real risk of dying out due to a general negligence in today's societies.

Promotion and advertisement of the network
1) Website

“A satisfied visitor will return… and bring new friends along!”

The website is the key element towards the promotion of the path network. Here all relevant available information can be found regarding the network, from path descriptions, route maps, GPS data, as well as updates and announcements about recent developments and activities (signage projects, guided tours, exhibitions, etc.). The website is linked to the official Facebook Page, which constitutes the quickest information portal for people to learn about the various path networks. Additionally, follow us on Twitter to receive the very latest updates!

2) Informational brochure
The creation of an informational brochure containing all relevant information about the network is a crucial step in path promotion, including local routes, maps and general description about the network. This leaflet can be distributed in tourism agencies and cultural institutions and will help to inform a broad mass of tourists and touristic enterprises about the path network concept. At the first stage it is highly important for the leaflet to circulate free of charge.

3) Informational panels
Installing information panels at public access points (ports, squares, crossroads etc.) displaying the trail network with an accompanying area map will further publicise the network and help tourists and passerbys for orientation.

4) Contacts with travel agencies
In the light of today's overstrained tourism industry, it is urgently necessary for the specialisation of ecotourism or cultural tourism to be promoted both on a national and global level. With help of local tourism offices, agencies in Greece and abroad should be invited to collaborate with the trail network project to plan and offer according "package" holidays by measure. Here we would like to emphasise the crucial role of the participation in tourism and especially ecotourism exhibitions.

The cost for a walking and cycling path network range from 500 to €1000/km

How much will all that cost?
Financially speaking, the development and implementation of a walking and cycling path network is the cheapest touristic investment possible, with a huge range of long-term benefits strongly outweighing the low initial costs. It is estimated that the installation of one local network costs around €1,000 per kilometer, although in many cases the actual costs have in fact been far lower.

In short, a network package includes route recording (mapping), design, trail clearance and maintenance, signposting with directional markers and information panels, the creation of an informational brochure and comprehensive website design, as well as handling of touristic marketing and promotion. At first stage, a completely newly-implemented network may be expected to exceed the initial cost calculation of €1,000/kilometer, due to the necessity of frequent maintenance and physical labor such as trail planning, clearing and signposting. Implementing a network to an already-existing, cleaned though perhaps imperfectly signposted trails will bear significantly lower costs and can fall as low as €500/kilometer. It should be noted that as a general rule, the more mileage a path network covers, the lower the price per kilometer.

Without doubt, the cheapest touristic investment imaginable!

What we offer
Comprehensive study of the development of walking and cycling path network  GPS-tracking  Clearing, maintenance and repairs  Signposting (path markers and information panels)  Creation of a map  Advice on setting up sponsors/sponsorships

Promotion and advertisement of the path network  Hiking trails brand planning  Website development  Creation of informational brochure  Representation at exhibitions for ecotourism  Advice for establishing ties/connections with touristic enterprises in Greece and abroad  Advice for setting up environmental education programmes

Who we are
Fivos Tsaravopoulos
Fivos Tsaravopoulos holds two Master titles in European Studies and Environmental Management. Beside his native language Greek, he is fluent in English and French. He has been actively involved with the implementation of walking and cycling trails across all of Greece since 2010. He has developed or helped with the implementation of several path networks on Skyros, Spetses, Marathonas, Sifnos, Kythera, Patmos, Karpathos, Athens (Ymittos) and Drama. He has collaborated with the Hellenic Society for Environment and Culture and the Kytherian Foundation for Culture and Development, as well as other private institutes. He has been a board member of the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature. In his free time, he is a passionate climber, hiker and photographer.

Michalis Antypas
Michalis is specialised in Geografical Information Systems (G.I.S.). He speaks Greek, English and Italian. He has worked for several companies in the filed of production of geographical information related software as well as in map creation. Michalis has a rich volunteering carrier (Protection of Sea Turtles Association, volunteer fire brigades, Doctors of the World) and he worked for WWF Greece as a field researcher. He is a fervent cyclist, and he loves mountairneering and scuba diving.

Contact
www.pathsofgreece.gr
(+30) 69.37.66.83.38 info@pathsofgreece.gr /pathsofgreece