The establishment of “The Rhodes Co-Lab”, with a time horizon of five years, is of great importance not only for Greece but for other countries as well.
It is the first project in the world in which a top destination of this size, such as Rhodes, is investing in sustainability in such a comprehensive way, in collaboration with a global tourism group.
The tone was set by Fritz Joussen, CEO of TUI Group, yesterday, at the presentation of “The Rhodes Co-Lab” in Rhodes, saying that “Sustainable transformation needs cooperation. Greece, the Aegean and TUI invite the tourism industry to work together to develop the sustainable destination of the future.”
The presentation, yesterday, in Aktaion was preceded earlier by a working meeting of the regional governor, George Hatzimarkos, in his office, with the President of the TUI Care Foundation, Thomas Ellerbeck, during which the implementation of this pioneering program, the first workshop for the beneficial green and digital transformation of the entire chain of services related to tourism were discussed, through the innovative Co-Lab project.
Moreover, in an announcement made by the Region it is stated that: “The Rhodes Co-Lab” is a strategic partnership between the South Aegean Region and the TUI Group, who join forces in order to build a pioneering model for sustainable tourism worldwide, with the support of the Ministry of Tourism and the Municipality of Rhodes, and with the mobilization and participation of local, national and global stakeholders from the public and private sector.
In particular, based on the global agenda for the achievement of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, but also at a European level, in the framework of the implementation of the European Green Agreement and the “Build Back Better” program for Europe, Rhodes was selected by TUI to star as a tourist destination in fair, inclusive, green digital and sustainable growth. It will be a roadmap for other destinations with similar characteristics to shift from the outdated tourism development model to that of truly sustainable tourism.
The goal is Rhodes to become an example for the sustainable development of holiday destinations. “The Rhodes Co-Lab” will collaborate with the local tourism industry and international partners so as to find specific solutions as well as their development and implementation on the island of Rhodes. In addition, a think tank will be set up in Rhodes to bring together international experts and to strengthen and further develop the transformation of the tourism sector.
Through the exchange of knowledge, skills, good practices and innovative ideas, “The Rhodes Co-Lab” will map, redesign and identify solutions – programs that will be a holistic approach to the implementation of a sustainable “new generation” business model for tourist destinations worldwide.
The Co-Lab will respond to all the modern challenges for the sustainable development of Rhodes, such as e.g. reducing the impact of tourism on the environment, while providing new benefits to local development and jobs, always aiming to ensure the involvement of local government, entrepreneurship and society at every stage of the process.
The implementation of the projects of “The Rhodes Co-Lab” concerns the whole range of infrastructure, products and services of the tourism chain and the local market (hotels, tourism companies, buses, taxis, tourist attractions, museums and cultural sites, restaurants and entertainment, ports-marinas, etc.).
For its financing, the project can draw resources from the Fund for Recovery and Sustainability, the NSRF 2021-2027, the Fund for Fair Transition and other European programs, as well as from the private sector, since its goals fully serve the goals of the aforementioned financial instruments.
The “Rhodes Co-Lab” Project focuses on four workstreams, each supporting three areas of focus, to create a positive impact and sustainable development:
1. Transformation towards a circular economy
2. Biodiversity restoration and ecosystem protection
3. Creating green economic growth and benefits for the local economy
4. Reduction of air, water and soil pollution
The goals set are:
– New jobs and local entrepreneurship
– Increasing local added value through innovative experiences
-Strengthen links between local SMEs and the tourism sector
– Energy, water and waste management
-Boosting local resource production
– Sustainable mobility and fuel transformation
– Reforestation and land regeneration
– Preservation of the diversity of nature
– Marine and coastal protection
– Promoting a career in tourism through training and skills upgrades
– Empowerment of children and young people through education
– Protection and promotion of the local authentic culture and heritage
The Head of the Region of the South Aegean, George Chatzimarkos, stated in this regard: “The Rhodes Co-Lab” is a great alliance and vote of confidence for Rhodes, for the South Aegean and Greece. There is a fundamental principle that covers all policies in our Region, the South Aegean Region: that the future starts today. We have faced enormous difficulties in the last decade, but we are proud to say today that in the islands of our Region are, now, stronger, more confident and determined to succeed in the future. Meeting the challenges is a complex task and we understand that no one can do it alone.
I believe that this great alliance, with a leader in the global tourism market, such as the TUI Group, goes beyond the narrow limits of our common commitment to this endeavor. It is a vote of confidence in Rhodes, in the islands of the South Aegean Region but also in Greece. With the support of the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who inspires us and shows us the way during all these difficult years, I am absolutely sure that there is a very promising future and I look forward to starting the implementation of this wonderful project, which, by focusing on human beings, it concerns the future of the tourism industry and not only.
Today we are proving that sustainability is not a utopia. It is a realistic plan, a plan of life. It is an invitation to participate and take action. It is a path of development. It is the way to respond fully to the great issues of our time, such as quality of life, infrastructure development, preservation of the unique environment and biodiversity, culture and civilization, prosperity, social cohesion. The future belongs to those who look at it intently and dare to face it. Together with the TUI Group and the TUI Care Foundation, we are moving forward towards the future we deserve. An interesting and demanding journey of 5 years begins “.
It is recalled that the first announcement of the project “The Rhodes Co-Lab” – 1st Sustainable Global Tourism Destination, was made last Wednesday by the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, during a teleconference with the CEO of TUI Group, Fritz Joussen, the Greek Tourism Minister, Vassilis Kikilias, the Greek Minister of State, Akis Skertsos, the Head of the Region of the South Aegean, George Chatzimarkos, and the Mayor of Rhodes, Antonis Kampourakis.
The presentation of the project took part in Rhodes, in front of the representatives of tourism organizations, the productive classes and the local government.
The Head of the Region of the South Aegean, George Chatzimarkos, together with the Greek Tourism Minister, Vassilis Kikilias, the CEO of TUI Group, Fritz Joussen, the Mayor of Rhodes, Antonis Kampourakis and the President of the TUI Care Foundation, Thomas Ellerbeck, with the coordination of journalist Nikos Ypofantis presented in the “Aktaion” hall the axes of this global initiative, based on which Rhodes was chosen to become the first sustainable, tourist destination and to be a model, sustainable business “new generation” model for tourist destinations worldwide.