Europa Nostra’s Secretary General joins Tourism and Sustainability Conference held in Athens

Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra and Project Leader of the European Heritage Hub, was delighted to join Stathis Potamitis, newly appointed President of Elliniki Etairia – Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage, to open this year’s Tourism and Sustainability Conference held on 27 February in Athens.

Intervening online, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, expressed her thanks to Elliniki Etairia – country representation of Europa Nostra in Greece and an affiliated partner of the European Heritage Hub – for organising this conference which underlined key issues of importance for many towns and sites in Europe. “It is true that tourism brings important economic benefits, but the right balance must be struck to ensure these benefits consider the quality of life of local communities and the long-term safeguarding of the cultural and natural heritage,” she stated.

On this matter, the Secretary General of Europa Nostra drew attention to the many pressures that can emanate from uncontrolled tourism, in particular the unique Cycladic Islands, which find themselves grappling with challenges and at risk of losing their exceptional and authentic character. The Cycladic Islands, notably Sifnos, Serifos and Folegandros were among the 11 heritage sites in Europe shortlisted for the 7 Most Endangered Programme 2024, announced by Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute last January.

Cycladic Islands, notably Sifnos, Serifos and Folegandros, Greece

The conference was also an opportunity to discuss solutions to the problems faced, including sustainable site management, the sharing of examples of development, and discussion of proposals and suggestions for efficient management strategies. Here, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović also underscored the importance of cooperation, and the role of Greece being a leader in the region. Referring to her recent mission to COP 28 in Dubai, she applauded the strong Greek delegation, including Lina Mendoni, Greek Minister of Culture (who joined online), and Deputy Minister, Christos Dimas (who attended in person), and in turn the role of civil society, including Europa Nostra and the Climate Heritage Network, in succeeding to bring about the Emirates Declaration on Culture-Based Climate Action. Adopted by several governments at COP, this statement creates a path for duly integrating culture into climate action which will also have important ramifications on developing a more sustainable tourism strategy internationally.

In her final remarks, the Project Leader of the European Heritage Hub drew attention to the representatives of Greek and European cities at the conference, some of whom are important associate partners of the European Heritage Hub, namely Athens, Krakow and Lisbon. Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović expressed her sincere hope that the conference would help further establish a virtual bridge between key European cities across the continent to ensure that the values of sustainability are embedded in each of our activities and outputs.

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