Welcome by CHARTS Lead Partner
I am pleased to welcome you to our project CHARTS “Culture and Heritage Added value to Regional policies for Tourism Sustainability”, in the Interregional Cooperation Programme INTERREG IVC of the European Union. For us at South Pelion, Greece, a small Municipality of the European periphery, is indeed a great honour to lead the CHARTS project partnership, but also a great responsibility, demonstrating especially in the current difficult circumstances that Greek people when working systematically and methodically can work wonders!
Our Municipality of South Pelion is a peninsula with topography combining mountain, lowlands, coasts, and islands. Pelion is a mountain with outstanding natural beauty, rich cultural heritage and great historical diversity over the centuries. Located close to the city of Volos, with road and rail access and Central Greece Airport with flights to several European cities, is also close to the North Sporades islands with ferry connections to Skiathos island. Pelion was the summer residence of the 12 Gods of Olympus and home of the Centaurs led by Chiron in mythology.
The narrow-gauge Pelion heritage railway, the legendary great little train, terminates in Milies, the cultural capital of our Municipality, which hosts an old library and a local museum. In Vizitsa village traditional mansion houses of unique architecture have been converted to luxury boutique hotels. Throughout the area, local products and cuisine offer healthy gastronomic opportunities ranging from olives and olive oil based cooking, fresh seafood, mountain dishes and deserts. In Ano Gatzea, there is a unique ‘olive and olive oil museum’ and in Trikeri village there are living museums of traditional tower houses, as well as rich maritime traditions, artefacts, local costumes and folklore dancing, spanning several generations and still active today.
The local economy of South Pelion primary sector is mainly olive growing and fishing, with secondary sector mainly in the processing of agricultural products, but in recent years relies increasingly on tourism. With the natural beauty and cultural diversity of the region, combining mountain and sea, the area offers endless possibilities during the whole year. It is an attractive area for the development of all alternative forms of sustainable tourism such as cultural tourism, gastronomic, trekking, railway heritage, equestrian, pilgrimage - religious, maritime, fishing, diving, daily cruises and more.
We are very honoured and fortunate to have as CHARTS project partners areas of unique cultural heritage and UNESCO Wold Heritage Sites such as Venice, Veneto Region, and Pafos (Cultural Capital of Europe for 2017), established destinations such as Mallorca and Wales, emerging destinations such as Midland Region in Ireland, Vastra Gotaland in Sewden, Vidzeme in Latvia, Sibiu in Romania (Cultural Capital of Europe in 2007), SE Bulgaria, as well as the European Cultural Tourism Network (ECTN) based in Brussels, the Ibertur-University of Barcelona and the Greek National Tourism Organisation.
I believe in collective effort and I think our collaboration within the project CHARTS will benefit all of us as a partnership, achieving and demonstrating in each of the partner regions all those competitive advantages that will work for the benefit of our citizens and visitors.
Mayor of South Pelion, Mr Nikolaos Fortounas