Sustainable tourism development: Best practices can turn an utopia into an achievable goal

Inspired by Sani | Ikos

Sustainable tourism requires a complex, multifactorial and multi-stakeholder action. With what practices did the Sani group manage to emerge as a true success story in the context of sustainable tourism?

Elena Papadimitriou, Journalist
Elena Andreadis, Director of Sustainability, Sani/Ikos Group 
Marianna Skylakaki, Economist, Publisher and Editor-in-chief of athiNEA
Sofia Zacharaki, Deputy Minister of Tourism

Sustainable tourism development: Best practices can turn an utopia into an achievable goal
Inspired by Sani | Ikos

#tourism #sustainability #greece #greektourism 

In destinations with a tourism model dependent on mass tourism, such as Greece, the local industry continues to grow in an environment  (institutional, political, economic, social) that does not  favor sustainability.  
However, the tourism industry needs to align with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
The Director of Sustainable Development and Social Responsibility of the Sani / Ikos Group, Eleni Andreadis, the publisher of athiNEA and economist, Marianna Skylakaki, as well as the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Sofia Zacharaki, discuss about the future of sustainable tourism in Greece and the challenges and the opportunities that the industry is facing, in a transition that is now considered necessary. The discussion is moderated by journalist Elena Papadimitriou.  
athiNEA, with the support of Sani/Ikos Group, conducted the study  “Eco-friendly Greece: Best Practices in Sustainable Tourism by 21 Resorts around the World”, which was published on the occasion of World Environment Day (5/6).
The study presents 21 resorts  around the world with outstanding sustainability practices - from Greece and Iceland to the United States, South Africa, the Maldives and Fiji Islands - highlighting the arising  trends to lead the "green" transition of the touristic industry. Thus, it reveals the path through which Greece can be transformed into a top "eco-friendly" travel destination during  the next decade, in line with these rapidly growing trends.
athiNEA’s partnership with Sani/Ikos Group, a hospitality group with significant initiatives in the field of Sustainable Tourism, is proof that exchange of knowledge and know-how can contribute to the transformation of the industry.   

What is the definition of sustainable development in the context of tourism?
How feasible it really is to align Greek tourism with the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030?
Sustainable tourism requires a complex, multifactorial and multi-stakeholder action. How did Sani/Ikos Group manage to emerge as a true success story and a leader in  sustainable hospitality?
What is the biggest challenge that the group faces  in implementing its sustainable tourism strategy?
How was the initial strategic decision made and what was the vision behind it?
Which structures or supporting mechanisms have contributed to the group’s success?
How is Sustainable Tourism embodied in the Sani/IKos Group culture and offering? What are the key pillars and initiatives of the Sani Green and Ikos Green programs?
How could the Sani/Ikos Group Sustainable Tourism program work as an example or inspiration for other resorts in Greece or even in other tourist destinations?  
Sustainable Tourism is not only about the optimum use of environmental resources and respect for local communities, but also about hypertourism, biodiversity and the protection of ecosystems. How are Sani / Ikos Group’s initiatives in all these areas?   

Elena Papadimitriou

Elena Papadimitriou was born and raised in Thessaloniki. She studied Journalism and Mass Communication at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, including a semester of studies in The Hague under the European Erasmus program. She completed her postgraduate studies in Political Science and Sociology at the University of Athens. She has been working in the press and electronic media since her student years. From 2003 to 2006 she worked as an editor of free and cultural reporting in the newspaper CITYPRESS. During the period 2006 - 2014 she was a member of the journalism team of the morning news program of MEGA, writing at the same time as contributor for five years in In July 2014, she started working in SKAI television and radio, covering international reporting in the main newscast and presenting news bulletins and shows. She has covered important events of European and international affairs in recent years, sometimes with long television broadcasts, in journalistic missions to places like Moscow, Turkey, Italy and Belgium. Maintaining to this day the longing for major festivals and concerts, she has traveled to dozens of European cities for cultural events, writing articles in a number of media. She speaks English, French and Italian.

Eleni Andreadis
Director of Sustainability, Sani/Ikos Group

Eleni Andreadis was born in London. She earned her Masters at Harvard University focusing on Environmental Policy and Media, and has consulted on sustainability issues for various companies, as well as presented, produced and consulted for channels and media organizations in the UK, US and Greece. She is the Director of Sustainability and CSR at Sani/Ikos Group and the creator of the award-winning Sani Green and Ikos Green programmes. Sani Resort is the first carbon neutral resort in Greece, powered by 100% renewable electricity, and was awarded the World’s Leading Luxury Green Resort at the World Travel Awards 2020, while Ikos Resorts has won international praise for its sustainability initiatives, including its zero-waste programme at Ikos Dassia in Corfu. Eleni is also the author of seven environmental books, including the best-selling Planet Agents book series, which has won the State Award for Children's Knowledge Book in Greece. Her books have been translated in numerous countries around the world, such as the US, China, Korea, Turkey, Egypt and the Middle East. Eleni is the founder of the non-profit organisation Planet Agents, which aims to empower children to take action on environmental issues, and a member of the Greek Leadership Council of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. 

Marianna Skylakaki
Economist, Publisher and Editor-in-chief of athiNEA

Marianna Skylakaki is an economist, publisher and editor in chief of athiNEA, the award-winning Greek online media outlet that has its eyes on the future. She studied Economics and Political Science at the University of Bristol and holds a Master's Degree in Public Administration (MPA in Public Policy & Management) from the London School of Economics. She began her career in London, where she worked as an analyst in the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs for three years. She returned to Athens and founded athiNEA, in 2014, addressed to a wide audience of active and demanding Greek-speaking readers who were looking for information closer to their own interests. She is a regular contributor to the Greek press as a political and economic analyst and has gained significant experience in moderating discussions at conferences and seminars in Greece and abroad. She also works as a consultant in matters of finance and public administration, with special experience in projects in the field of tourism, agri-food and clustering. 

Sophia Zacharaki
Deputy Minister of Tourism

Sofia Zacharaki is a graduate of the Department of English Language and Literature of the Athens School of Philosophy with postgraduate studies in Comparative Education and Administration of European Educational Organisations of the University of Athens. 
She is specialised in teaching English by the Institute of Education of the University of London.  
In 2015 she represented Greece in the IVLP (International Visitor Leadership Program) as a US State Department Fellow on "The Role of Public-Private Partnerships in Reconstructing Economies."
She has worked as a teacher in private and public schools, for the Ministry of Education in the European Union department and in the Secretariat for Lifelong Learning and Youth. She has also been an advisor to the Minister of Development on International and European Relations.
In March 2019 she was appointed Spokesperson of the New Democracy party and in July 2019 she was appointed Deputy Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, in charge of issues of Primary and Secondary Education and Special Education.
In January 2021, she took over duty as Deputy Minister of Tourism.
She speaks English, Spanish and French.