Ecoclub Member Blogs

Antonis is the Founder and Editor of Ecoclub.

Utopia through Tragedy?

A plane is constantly losing altitude over the ocean. Some start praying. Others are frozen with fear. Some remain calm and also try to calm down their fellow passengers - "the pilots surely know what they are doing". Some are screaming or crying, hard to tell, something in between. Some are hugging each other and others are kissing. One is stealing an expensive smartphone. Some are texting their loved ones. A few are preparing to open the door and jump while others are just bracing for impact. A small group are trying to burst into the cockpit to check on the pilot and take control. The plane is the world. The fire is Covid, maybe 3 months from now. Who will you be? Who should you be? There is no easy answer.Looking at the bright side...hard but try: if we were to add freedom of movement with (green means of transport,...
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Quintuple Crisis? Five more reasons to act and green our act!

Tourism communities, businesses and destinations, the world itself is now facing a quintuple or five-fold crisis: the Climate Crisis, the Coronavirus Crisis, a structural Economic Crisis, a sharp Financial Crisis and an ongoing Refugee/Humanitarian Crisis. It should be, but it is not always obvious to everyone that the five crises are interconnected. Habitat loss and a warming climate encourages infectious diseases. Diseases worsen the simmering, global, structural economic crisis, which brings about a sharp drop in financial exchanges. All these worsen the socioeconomic conditions in already-troubled and poor parts of the world with wars ensuing and new refugees and economic migrant streams created. This in turn gives rise to xenophobic political forces which puts pressure on the political class and sabotages progressive, green initiatives, the very ones we need if we are to combat climate crisis or at lease adapt to some of its side-effects. This is a vicious circle. To break...
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Green Underground

191009-iera-odos The Sacred Way
The greenest, quickest and safest way to explore a big city often is to use the underground. No hopping on and hopping off double-deckers stuck in traffic or lethal (to you and pedestrians) electric scooters. No more so than in Athens where many underground stations are museums in their own right. Get off at any station and walk 1 km in each direction and you will sample the real sounds, tastes and smells of each neighbourhood. Taking Line 3 to Egaleo station today I missed a couple of trains due to the fascinating ancient artefact displays next to the platform. And two more trains must have already passed by while I was admiring the best preserved section of the 2,500+ year old Sacred Way or ΙΕΡΑ ΟΔΟΣ (see picture) discovered a few years ago when the station was built! 
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Thomas Cooking No More

190923-thomas-cook
Does the sudden demise of Thomas Cook, two years after that of Monarch, another tour operator-airline, signal the end of the era of the giant, mainstream tour operator hit by the giant internet meteorite? Is it a welcome step away from concentration (Thomas Cook having merged with MyTravel in 2007 to create a European 'giant') towards economic democracy,or just a shift from the high street chain, where now only a small minority purchase their holidays, to bookings through Online Travel Agencies/platforms and, to a lesser extent, directly through provider's social media and websites?Thomas Cook's rivals such as TUI, do not seem to suffer from such problems as they are vertical companies that own their accommodation, so it is too soon to say, if Thomas Cook's demise is part of a broader trend of socioeconomic significance. Other factors at play, according to analysts were Brexit-related uncertainty and the devaluation of sterling it caused...
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Small accommodations and environmentally unfriendly guests

190915-unfriendly-guests
There are plenty of guidelines on what hosts need to do to become eco-friendly but precious little on how to get the guests to also be environmentally friendly, which is a different matter than how to attract eco-friendly guests.Most small establishments, apart from luxury boutique accommodation, are not choosy and do not exclude guests through pricing. In most parts of the world, the average price-sensitive guest in small accommodations and short rentals does not enjoy being lectured and will probably not venture further than the first page of your long list of do's and don'ts. She/he feels that as they have paid for this holiday, they are entitled to use as much electricity and water as he wants without sparing a second's thought for the Amazon fires and the Climate Crisis. Since, as they think, 'it is included' in the price, it makes sense having the air-con 24/7 and at a low temperature and setting...
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Leaving no footprints is no longer enough

In an era of climate crisis and mass migration, leaving no footprints is no longer enough - Responsible tourists should leave solidarity footprints behind, we need a positive, progressive, green impact tourism!Two inspiring examples from Greece:1. Welcommon Hostel, Athens (Web: https://welcommonhostel.gr): A seven-floor building in the centre of Athens, a former public clinic, converted into a hostel and run by the social cooperative Anemos Ananeosis (Wind of Renewal), led by former Green MEP (Member of European Parliament) Mr Nikos Chrysogelos. Since 2018 it offers inexpensive, eco-accommodation and is also a center for social and green innovation and the arts, making bridges between locals, migrants and refugees. It is disabled-friendly and bicyle-friendly. Two floors function as an open centre for social empowerment and inclusion, creating new employment opportunities in areas such as upcycling, ethnic cuisines, culture, green / cyclic economy, energy efficiency and others. Classes are offered (languages, painting, puppet show, music) with...
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Ikaria: Blue, Red and Green

The Greek island of Ikaria, (or Icaria, after Icarus) is famously one of the planet's 5 blue zones, with one of the world’s greatest life expectancy, and the lowest rates of middle-age mortality and dementia. Less known outside Greece is the fact that it combines its healthy and leisurely lifestyle with being a red fortress (or vestige) where the communists are the dominant force, although the communist candidate unexpectedly lost with "just" 42% in the May 2019 municipal elections. And it is now turning Green and able to cover 50% of its energy needs with renewable energy through an innovative Euros 50m development, inaugurated by the Greek Public Power Corporation (DEH) on World Environment Day 2019: a pumped storage clean energy plant that combines wind and hydraulic energy, named "Naeras" from "Nero-Water" and "Aeras-Wind". Essentially wind energy from a wind park, is "stored" by pumping water from a lower reservoir to an...
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Making Ecolabels Affordable, User-friendly and Transparent.

190522-solar-bank-ulcumano Photo of Solar Bank provided by Ulcumano Ecolodge of Peru, during their Ecoclub Desktop Audit, March 2019
One of the main impediments for the expansion of ecolabels to small accommodations. The undeniable, rarely uttered truth, is that all the best-known, credible, labels charge far more than a small hotelier can afford or is willing/used to pay, for services that they do not consider as absolutely necessary or legally required. Worse, the process is time-consuming for small owners that have to multi-task every day. Part of the solution is making ecolabels required by law, at least for accommodations of a certain size. Quality Tour Operators may also make accommodation ecolabels necessary, if they give preference to certified accommodation. But the real solution is making ecolabels affordable and user-friendly. A quick way of doing both is to introduce remote, online, real-time audits using Skype, or similar free conferencing software. At the one end the Auditor can request the auditee (usually the owner in small properties) to show her/him in real...
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Sharing Economy Uplifts Downtown Athens

Sharing Economy Uplifts Downtown Athens
Much-maligned by a small but vocal anti(over)tourism fringe and misguided hoteliers, Airbnb (and copycat platforms, imitation being the most sincere form of flattery) have single-handedly changed Tourism for ever. They have democratised it, spreading benefits widely and deeply into local communities and neighbourhoods. This is very much so in our home city, Athens, where Airbnb and the subway have transformed formerly run-down, down-town areas and offered a lifeline to lower-middle class owners, during the protracted Greek financial crisis which saw unemployment rates soar to 25% (currently at around 18%). The beneficial effects of the tourism sharing economy in Athens, a classic city break and an ancient tourism destination, were recognised in a one-day conference focusing on the future of Tourism Rentals held yesterday, 9 May 2019, in Athens. The event, attended by mayoral and regional candidates with local elections taking place in two weeks, was co-organised by the Athens Merchants Association (ESA)...
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The era of the so-called

The era of the so-called
When we describe something as 'so-called' we do not really take a neutral position but imply that it should not be called this: note the expression "your so-called friends". Personally, I always use the words 'so-called' in front of 'Overtourism', as, although I recognise that the term is in popular use, I dispute that it is a new phenomenon, which merits the invention of fancy new tools. It is simply, a result of 'Undermanagement', a result of the lack or inappropriate use of tried and tested tools backed by tens of thousands of academic research papers and best case studies. Even in our famously disorganised (famous) city, we do not get any Overtourism in the extremely confined and slippery place that is the Acropolis despite millions visiting every year. The term 'Overtourism' also has population alarmist (cf. 'Overpopulation') and racist, xenophobic undertones and does not go well with green, pro-tourism, open...
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