Olive oil tourism - a new form of tourism for the Cretan back country

A SEDIK proposal which may be supported by LEADER


    Olive oil tourism is a new, upcoming and very promising form of alternative tourism, which could and should be developed in Greece and particularly in Crete. Its development, however, requires planning and support on the part of both the State and the Region, with different measures for community and national programmes.


For some years SEDIK, in collaboration with other bodies, has been engaged in different informational and support activities which constitute a serious basis for more systematic development in the future. 

   Recently it submitted a specific proposal for the support and development of olive oil tourism under the LEADER programme, an invitation for public proposals for which has already been issued by the Crete Development Organisation (OAK) in Chania.

The main points of the proposal, in brief, are as follows:


    Olive growing and tourism, which comprise the two main economic resources and employment sectors in Crete, present a number of potential synergies.

Olive cultivation can offer tourism its healthy products and its culture, contributing to the healthy nourishment and cultural information of visitors to the island, while tourism can offer olive cultivation a new source of income and employment for the inhabitants of the countryside.

Olive oil tourism is an especially innovative alternative form of tourism, which can utilise the complementary features of olive cultivation and tourism.


  Crete has an abundance of comparative advantages for the development of olive oil tourism over other areas of Spain and Italy where it is already developing rapidly through special programmes. The main areas in which Greece has the advantage are:

- Culture: In Crete there is a unique and inestimable wealth of publicly accessible monuments to olive cultivation which are distributed across the four Regional Units of the island. SEDIK has placed information boards in Greek and English at 17 Minoan and Byzantine archaeological monuments and 25 monumental olive trees, of which 8 are rehabilitated and open to visitors.

- Health: The documented scientific data on the universally known beneficial effects of olive oil and the Cretan diet on health and longevity have been assembled along with 300 authenticwefjwk2 recipes of Cretan housewives in special publications (books and leaflets) in Greek and English, which constitute an important basis for the support and promotion of the traditional Cretan diet to foreigners.

     As was demonstrated by a SEDIK survey, the overwhelming majority of tourists (over 90 per cent) are aware of the beneficial effects of olive oil on health, and the fact that food with olive oil is healthier. They are also ready to pay more for food prepared exclusively with olive oil.

  - Environment: Olive groves make up 65 per cent of agricultural land in Crete and cover 25 per cent of its surface, constituting the natural forest of the island. They thus allow the creation of hiking trails, viewing points and resting places, also offering visitors who want it contact with the natural environment.

  - Infrastructure: Through periodic programmes, quite a number of public and private olive tourism facilities have been created for the reception, information, entertainment and nourishment of tourists.

Among these are some 60 existing olive oil museums, olive oil tavernas, olive mills open to the public, olive oil catering units, and olive estates which could be made publicly accessible with some modifications to installations and equipment, while many other similar places could be set up and put into operation.


    A comprehensive plan for the correct development of olive oil tourism in Crete would have to include a range of public and private facilities but also the training of suitable personnel for their staffing and operation.

The main actions which are required are:


    A. Public facilities and activities

- Olive oil museums. Creation or improvement of existing olive oil museums with provision of extra display materials and staffing by specialised personnel.fqfqFQ3

- Monumental olive trees. Completion of the rehabilitation and promotion of those already recognised by SEDIK as well as of others which fulfil the requirements.

- Creation of trails. Improvement of those existing and designation of new ones which will include cultural monuments, monumental olive trees and facilities for reception and refreshment etc.

- Staff training. Organisation of workshops and seminars for tour and reception personnel at monuments, reception facilities (municipalities and other local bodies).

- Information material. Production of printed and electronic material in Greek and English on the cultural and environmental value of the olive and the health advantages of olive oil.


   B. Private installations

- Olive oil museums. Provision of exhibition materials, addition of audiovisual materials and air conditioning.

Construction of air-conditioned exhibition spaces and refreshment areas, provision of souvenirs, printed matter, electronic media and certified olive oil food products. Improvement and safety measures for parking and other areas.

- Oil mills open to the public. Upgrading of existing olive processing units. Construction of air-conditioned multi-purpose areas (for information, refreshment, tastings, provision of printed and audiovisual material, olive oil products and olive-based snacks, etc.)

- Olive oil tavernas. Upgrading and adaptation of existing catering establishments. Creation of "Olive corner" display units, for the disposition of printed and audiovisual information materials, decorative objects, olive-based products, etc.)

- Olive oil dietary units. Creation of special equipment for training in catering and olive oil tasting, collective preparation of olive oil-based snacks etc.