In May 2019, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), together with the financial assistance of the European Union, the cooperation of the Ministry of Tourism, and the valuable support of Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) and the Chambers of Cyclades and Dodecanese, initiated a pilot project focused on two major destinations in Greece, Rhodes and Santorini.

The main objective was to outline actions and priorities for sustainable destination management planning and set the scene for similar initiatives in other destinations around Greece. As part of a tripartite consortium of consultants from the UK and Greece, Toposophy worked for 6 months on several modules including: 
  • A detailed situation analysis based on local facts and insights as well as international trends and best practices
  • Extensive consultation with local communities and businesses through interactive workshops, site visits, and expert interviews
  • Dedicated primary research through online surveys among local businesses, members of local communities and recent visitors
  • Thorough communication of all activities through the official website of the pilot programme and a roadshow of final presentations Santorini, Rhodes, Chania (Crete) and Athens at the end of October.
  • Further elaboration of all key findings with regard to the development of an experience framework and the identification of key issues and strategic priorities per island. 
By addressing the contemporary dynamics within the tourism industry we finally came up with comprehensive destination management plans for Rhodes and Santorini. These strategic documents include both marketing and action plans of a wider agenda, for the sustainable development of the two destinations.


To become a sustainable tourism destination the island needs to shift away from the “mono-economy” model and to work on areas such as carrying capacity assessment, visitor management, infrastructure development, waste management, heritage protection and improvement, efficient use of natural resources and tacklin seasonality.

Subsequently, we identified multiple areas on which authorities can focus their efforts, so that tourism is beneficial from an economic, environmental and social point of view while also attracting those visitors who will provide the greatest benefit to the destination:
  • Making Santorini sustainable for the decades to come
  • Managing tourism to ensure residents’ quality of life and quality of visitor experience
  • Conserving the quality of Santorini’s built and natural environment
  • Ensuring Santorini achieves optimum value from tourism
  • Developing new experiences for the off-season, providing a model for attracting higher revenue summer tourism
  • Enhancing the brand
  • Crisis management - crisis preparedness

Tackling the highly seasonal model of ongoing tourism activity, improving the utilisation of the exceptional cultural and natural resources and reducing the dependence on traditional distribution channels are some of the key challenges in transforming Rhodes into an all-year-round sustainable destination. 

Similar to Santorini, a series of strategic priorities were highlighted:
  • Rhodes for All Seasons – the ‘Flagship’ initiative
  • Repositioning Rhodes – enhancing its image and broadening its appeal
  • Creating Sustainable Rhodes – sustainable in terms of environment/natural resources, communities, visitors, businesses  
  • Managing Visitors in the City – maximising visitor enjoyment and quality of life
  • Extending the Footprint – spreading tourism benefits to businesses and communities across the island
  • Enhancing the Visitor Experience – focusing on quality
  • Crisis management - crisis preparedness 
Destination Management Guide

The experience gained from Rhodes and Santorini also guided us in producing a Guide to Destination Management Planning in Greece. Given the challenges that the country’s tourism sector is currently facing, this toolbox provides guidelines for destinations that aim to perceive tourism into the wider framework of visitor economy, embrace the aspirations of local communities, and introduce advanced solutions in order to:
  • Enhance visitor experience
  • increase the average spending of visitors
  • Lengthen the season
  • Implement sustainable practices
Detailed research, situation analysis and consultations with the local communities are some of the most important prerequisites for coming up with a proper DMP. Using the collected data, destinations should be able to come up with a strategic aim and vision, and a series of objectives to be achieved. In more practical terms, strategic priorities and action plans should be also established along with frameworks for innovative visitor experience and product development. Identifying unique narratives and highlighting local experiences will enhance the destination’s distinctiveness and make the experience of the visitor memorable. Furthermore, monitoring on an ongoing basis, establishing relevant KPIs and constant evaluation of the tourism effects on community, industry, visitors, and environment are prerequisites for the success of a destination management plan. We are also proposing 3 governance options focused on the different ways organizations that are in charge of such DMPs could be established in Greece.

We would like to thank EBRD for the continuous support and their ambition for a more sustainable tourism future. Special thanks also deserve to all of our fellow partners during this project including Team Consulting, Yellow Railroad, Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) and the Chambers of Cyclades and Dodecanese.

The presentations of the dissemination event are already available in the dedicated website of the programme, while the full reports (in English) will be available by the beginning of December. 

Did you know?

TOPOSOPHY has created useful tools for European cities seeking to manage tourism growth and transform destination marketing organisations in order to serve their destinations better. Find out more about the ECM Toolbox on Managing Tourism Growth in Europe, as well as the Manifest on the Future of DMOs. We have also informed the development of a new strategy for the city of Edinburgh, carried out destination master lans for Scottish destinations including Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire, and the Tay Cities Region, and set the scene for the development and marketing of the Culture Route of Central Greece





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