The study plan for the future of Santorini A model for Environmental Tourism was presented in Santorini by Professor Michael Romanos, who is leading a Sustainable Development Group from the University of Cincinnati. Based on economics, tourism of the future brings to light the places which are comparatively cheap to go to and have a required quality of service, explained Professor Romanos. He is also the Professor of Planning in UCs College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.
According to the study, the tourism cycle began in the Greek islands in the 1960s and the 1970s and can distinctly be seen to be winding down now. This is results from the fact that there is no economic profit being derived, even though a large number of tourists still visit the islands.
Taking the example of Santorini, it was noted that each day various cruise ships transport nearly three million visitors to the island in a year. Even though this number is astonishing they also have serious implications on traffic and the beaches, making the economic payoff quite unfair. Since most visitors leave the island after spending the day on the island the actual input towards the economy by them is not enough to compensate for the daily stress, as well as environmental and cultural degradation that the island and the locals face, said Romanos.
The UC team, as well as individual members, plans to focus on the following scenarios: during the summer of 2005, to harness the power of tourism, so as to work for the economy and the locals. Some of the ways to achieve this would be: To develop boutique wines, such as the Vinsanto which is a local wine, as well as other varieties, for export. Some grapes, which are native to the island, go back to as far as 3000 years and are only known locally. An effort to change this scenario can be highly beneficial to the economy of the island.
Another technique would be to promote the year round elder villages, this can be done by giving discounts to visitors over the age of 65. Already a major health facility exists on the island which can easily serve the elders residing on the island as well as any others living on the 20 or so nearby islands, accessible via a half hour helicopter ride.
The designation of the entire island as a Cultural Heritage Park is another technique which can help visitors learn more about the architecture, culture, history and agriculture of the island rather than the usual sunny beaches and white sands. Some of the past accomplishments of the team at UC include creation of a hiking trail between two interior villages, construction of a new sewer system as well as water system in two villages in Crete and many others.