Cam­paign launched to de­velop hik­ing tourism on Fole­gan­dros

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY YIAN­NIS ELAFROS

What could be bet­ter than a 25-kilo­me­ter walk on Fole­gan­dros? A 50-kilo­me­ter walk on Fole­gan­dros! An am­bi­tious ef­fort is un­der way by the south­east­ern Aegean is­land’s res­i­dents, its mu­nic­i­pal­ity, as well as the Net­work for Sus­tain­able Greek Is­lands (DAFNI), which aims to use pub­lic funds for two very im­por­tant projects. First is the fur­ther de­vel­op­ment of the is­land’s net­work of hik­ing trails and sec­ond is the com­ple­tion of a safe pedes­trian walk link­ing the port with the is­land’s main town, Hora.

Fole­gan­dros is per­fect for hik­ing, criss­crossed with trails that lead walk­ers through rocky yet en­chant­ing land­scapes, and past thresh­ing floors, aban­doned huts and tra­di­tional Cy­cladic houses. “To­day the net­work of hik­ing trails to­tals 25 kilo­me­ters. If we suc­ceed in ex­pand­ing it to 50 kilo­me­ters, we can put Fole­gan­dros on the map of Euro­pean hik­ing trails, as that is the min­i­mum length re­quired for that,” says Kos­mas Anag­nos­topou­los, who is re­spon­si­ble for the DAFNI net­work’s sus­tain­able mo­bil­ity pro­gram and co­or­di­na­tor of a cam­paign called Fole­gan­dros Routes: A Step for Cul­ture & Na­ture. Its goals in­clude pro­duc­ing a reli­able map of the is­land, putting up sign­posts and car­ry­ing out main­te­nance work, and de­vel­op­ing apps for mo­bile de­vices and e-books, among oth­ers. Another aim of the cam­paign is the com­ple­tion of an at­trac­tive and func­tional pedes­trian street that will con­nect the port of Kar­avostasi to Hora. “This is one of the most com­mon routes taken by vis­i­tors but it’s also quite treach­er­ous. We aim to cre­ate a safe route for pedes­tri­ans run­ning be­side the ex­ist­ing path, about 3-5 kilo­me­ters in length, and with mod­i­fi­ca­tions for peo­ple with mo­bil­ity prob­lems,” says Anag­nos­topou­los. The or­ga­niz­ers say the al­ter­ations are en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly and com­pat­i­ble with the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, as well as the is­land’s cul­tural her­itage.

Com­ple­tion of the pro­ject is de­pen­dent on the fi­nan­cial sup­port of lo­cal res­i­dents, busi­nesses, peo­ple who’ve em­i­grated from the is­land, tourists and other friends of Fole­gan­dros. Through crowd­fund­ing, the Fole­gan­dros Routes (www.fole­gan­dros­routes.com) cam­paign is at­tempt­ing to raise the re­quired amount. If it suc­ceeds in rais­ing 12,000 eu­ros, the hik­ing net­work will be com­pleted. If do­na­tions reach 24,000 eu­ros, the team will also be able to pro­duce a proper map and an on­line net­work. But, fully com­plet­ing both projects will take 100,000 eu­ros, Anag­nos­topou­los ex­plains.

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