South Aegean is a laboratory for sustainable tourism

South Aegean is a laboratory for sustainable tourism

7 February 2022 – The innovative Rhodes Co-Lab project has been launched in the South Aegean, awarded European Region of Gastronomy 2019 by IGCAT, for Rhodes to become a leader in sustainable tourism and destination management.

Developed by the Government of the South Aegean in partnership with TUI Group and TUI Care Foundation, the Rhodes Co-Lab will work with the local tourism industry and international partners to find concrete solutions and transform the island into an international beacon for the sustainable development of holiday destinations.

Over the next five years, the project partners will stimulate responsible growth in Rhodes by focusing on several areas of intervention such as: the conservation of local resources; local community participation through the creation of new job opportunities; the protection of biodiversity and the environment; education and training opportunities; the promotion of the local cultural heritage; responsible energy, water and waste management; sustainable mobility.

All three partners are committed to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, the Paris Agreement and the EU’s goal to be climate neutral by 2050, and agree that holiday destinations play a decisive role in achieving the sustainability goals of tourism.

As a top global destination where a complexity of tourism actors converge – hotels, airports, cruises, transfers and mobility, excursions and so on – Rhodes offers the best conditions to test innovations for an increased sustainability and to understand their interaction.

“There is a fundamental principle that covers all the policies in our Region, the Region of South Aegean: that the future starts today. We faced huge difficulties over the last decade, but we are proud to say that in the islands of our Region we came out stronger, more confident and determined to succeed also in the future. Tackling the challenges ahead is a complex task and we understand that nobody can do it alone. I believe that this great alliance, with a leader in the global tourism market, such as the TUI Group, goes beyond the narrow limits of our common commitment to this endeavour. It’s a vote of confidence to Rhodes, to the islands of the Region of South Aegean but also to Greece,” said George Hatzimarkos, Governor of the South Aegean Region. 

The Co-Lab supports the sustainability initiatives of the government of the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the South Aegean Region and is part of TUI’s long-term Sustainability Agenda.

“The Co-Lab can serve as a laboratory for sustainable tourism of the future” affirmed Fritz Joussen, CEO of TUI Group, highlighting that the project will “create role models and blueprints for other destinations. We invite everyone in the tourism industry to join forces and contribute ideas and innovations to The Rhodes Co-Lab. In this decade of sustainable transformation, the Co-Lab will show how a holistic approach to greater sustainability can work – for the people who live in destinations, for travellers, for the environment and for the tourism industry.”

For more information read the full joint press release “The Rhodes Co-Lab”: TUI and Greece launch futures lab for sustainable tourism.

About the European/World Regions of Gastronomy

Candidate and awarded European/World Regions of Gastronomy, guided by IGCAT, are working together to strengthen food security through the celebration of distinctive food cultures; create employment by stimulating creativity and gastronomic innovation; nourish children and adults through culinary and cultural education; drive environmental sustainability in tourism, hospitality and agricultural sectors; support balance and sustainable tourism practices; highlight and support expertise from within rural and urban communities, creating connections and sharing good practises; and contribute to community health and well-being.


IGCAT aims to empower local communities by raising awareness of the importance to protect and promote distinct regional food, culture, arts and natural assets as part of sustainable and balanced tourism and development strategies. This is essential to safeguard our planet, health, wellness and local economies.

IGCAT is a non-profit institute established in 2012, working with regional stakeholder consortiums in the fields of gastronomy, culture, arts and tourism. It counts on the expertise of a worldwide network of experts and works in partnership with specialised intergovernmental organisations.

IGCAT founded the European and World Region of Gastronomy Award and is the official secretariat for the World and European Regions of Gastronomy Platforms. Furthermore, the Institute has developed the European Young Chef Award, the World Food Gift Challenge, the Top Websites for Foodie Travelers Award and the Food Film Menu.