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Greece and Cyprus Explore Ways to Promote Religious Tourism

Monastery of St. John, Patmos. Photo source: @ReCult Interreg VA Greece/Cyprus

Ways to further develop and promote religious tourism in Greece and Cyprus were presented during a round-table discussion that recently took place on Rhodes as part of the EU’s Re-Cult program.

Re-Cult aims to highlight and promote cultural and religious heritage through the development of religious tourism on the Greek islands and Cyprus.

Over 60 state officials from both countries, representatives of tourism organizations, local authorities and the Greek Orthodox Church participated in the event. Among them were Greek Deputy Tourism Minister Sofia Zacharaki and Cyprus Deputy Tourism Ministry officer Olga Theocharous.

During the event, participants presented the main actions of Re-Cult and referred to a Memorandum of Cooperation that is being designed to pave the way for future activities and collaborations between organizations in Greece and Cyprus.

According to Secretary General for Tourism Policy and Development Vicky Loizou the memorandum will be signed by the two countries in the coming weeks.

“Religious tourism is a priority for us at the Tourism Ministry and the good practices that emerge from the Re-Cult program could be applied in large-scale projects,” Loizou said.

Religious tourism: Opportunities and actions

The representatives of both countries also discussed the opportunities as well as obstacles that have appeared while trying to develop religious tourism.

One highlighted part of the discussion was the need to register and digitilize the rich religious products of Greece and Cyprus through augmented and virtual reality applications, and finding ways to connect religious tourism with local economic activity and complementary thematic tourism forms such as gastronomy and culture.

They also stressed the significance of upgrading the infrastructure and signage of religious monuments and facilitating access for people with mobility issues.

The church of Archangel Michael in Pedoulas, Cyprus. Photo source: @ReCult Interreg VA Greece/Cyprus

Discussions further focused on the development of new educational and training programs that would enhance the knowledge and skills of individuals involved in religious tourism including tour guides and tourism agency employees.

The event’s participants also highlighted the importance of further developing thematic cruises in order to attract international visitors.

Moreover, the representatives of Greece and Cyprus agreed that multi-sided synergies between private and public sector organizations are considered significant to develop religious tourism.

Re-Cult is part of the Interreg VA Cooperation Program Greece – Cyprus 2014-2020.

It is funded by the European Union and national resources of Greece and Cyprus.

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