Ecotourism / Agrotourism

Ecotourism and Agrotourism are alternative forms of tourism and specifically Rural Tourism, which are continuously developing and offering new investment opportunities. Their basic difference compared to the conventional forms of tourism consists in the fact that they respect the principles of sustainable development by developing soft activities that are in perfect harmony with the natural environment and local communities, and by promoting learning, knowledge and visitor participation in various outdoor activities.

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New entities/ businesses have been created in recent years within the framework of an Ecotourism/Agrotourism development plan, such as businesses that:

  • Organise leisure travel, guiding and entertainment in areas of natural beauty;
  • Provide environmental knowledge and awareness;
  • Contribute to the education and familiarity of visitors with the local culture, local products, customs and other local habits;
  • Participate in the protection of natural resources;
  • Are involved with agricultural production and the cultural environment of rural areas, and also their promotion.

Advantages - Environmental Benefits

As regards the environment and society, activities based on Ecotourim/Agrotourism i.e. on sustainable development standards, minimize the negative effects on the natural and cultural environment.

Ecotourism and agrotourism enhance and support

  • the creation and trade in traditional products;
  • strengthening of local agricultural production and local services;
  • the cultural and natural wealth of each area;
  • sustainable and small-scale supply of tourism services;
  • the protection of the human and natural environment in which they operate and also contribute to the economic and social upgrading of an area.

Institutional Framework

Only recently a specific legislative proposal was drafted that includes the promotion of Ecotourism and Agrotourism through a new, long-term competitive tourism development model that respects and enhances the country’s natural and cultural environment. Businesses will now be able to obtain the Special Rural Tourism Label, provided they fulfil the special criteria, terms and conditions set out in the proposed legislation. At times, various national and European programmes subsidize relevant ecotourism and agrotourism activities, including the NSRF, Investment, Green Tourism, Leader I and Leader II.