Konstantinos Marinakos

Tourism Business Management, TEI of Athens, Greece

Judit Grotte
² International Hospitality Management, Budapest Metropolitan University, Hungary  



This analysis attempts to highlight the importance and role of synergies that can be developed between tourism and the agri-food sector in regional development and the economy. At a time when our country is being tested by a multi-year and widespread crisis, the development of business partnerships between different productive sectors is deemed necessary.
The study focuses on tourism and agriculture as two fundamental growth and commitment axes for sustainable development based on the preservation of the environment and the rich natural diversity of regions especially in geographical areas such as the case study of the Peloponnese in Greece, these two micro (agriculture and tourism) have the comparative advantage of coexisting and expanding through synergies that can be developed to contribute to social wealth and development.

Keywords: tourism, agri-food sector, synergies, regional development, Peloponnese - Greece



The various scholars consider tourism and the primary-food sector in the light of co-production and co-operation in productive sectors in the context of growing environmental awareness and the prevailing concept of sustainable development and the role of green marketing that can and must play a essential role in the operation and development of regions and increase their competitiveness.
The findings are based on the analysis of the key indicators from secondary research, the data from the scientific literature and the data collected on the basis of the primary research carried out in the geographical unit of the Peloponnese in Greece.
In recent years an attempt has been made to link tourism to other sectors so that the benefits that it brings are not only confined to private profits but also spread to other factors of economic activity aimed at the overall economic and social development of a country.
Particularly, the need to link tourism to the agri-food sector is increasingly emphasized, as tourism is considered a powerful tool for promoting local products at national and global level (Ashley & Haysom, 2009).
Traditionally, the two sectors were considered to be competing with one another, which led to a failure to implement synergies between them in many cases (Bélisle 1983; Pattullo 1996; Momsen 1998).
Competition between agri-food and tourism has been attributed to many reasons, such as using own resources, for example. water, land, workforce, finance etc. Many times, especially in underdeveloped and developing economies, tourism has been particularly associated with environmental pollution, land deforestation, as well as rural depopulation, as it employs a rural labor force, thus enhancing immigration in the cities or next to the big holiday resorts. (Besisle, 1983)
At a regional level, a unique focus on tourism, at the expense of local agricultural production, may lead to interdependent forms of unevenness with spatial concentration, resulting in large differences in wealth between the tourist and rural areas (Torres, 2000, Torres and Momsen , 2004).


Returning to nature, eating healthy food and using natural materials is a global movement that is also reflected in tourism. The preservation of the environment is already a prerequisite for the development of tourism, as a significant number of tourists want and expect an ecological element in the tourism offer. These two aspects create a balance between the market and the environment. Ecology becomes both the trend and the need.
In this way, it is not only possible to preserve the existing, traditionally exploited natural attractions but also to intensify the tourist exploitation of the protected natural areas and the environmentally acceptable agricultural production as an additional enrichment of the tourism supply. (WTO, 2008)
With regard to global environmental, social and economic challenges, the international community in Rio de Janeiro (Agenda 21) has created the framework for achieving sustainable development in general, which the World Tourism Organization sets out to take into account the needs of modern tourists and tourist destinations while protecting and improving the potential for growth for the future. All resources can be used only to the extent that the economic, social and environmental requirements of all participants in the tourist market are met.
Following these changes in the global tourist market, many of the most relevant tourist destinations try to diversify and adjust their offer in order to attract environmentally friendly tourist departments that record development both in terms of size of the department and the share of consumption on the world tourist market (Berno, 2006).
It must be stressed that the Peloponnese undoubtedly holds a privileged position in relation to its competitors due to many factors but also environmental awareness of its tourism policy to preserve what can be considered the most valuable asset of the country: a preserved and picturesque natural environment, the pristine coast and the authenticity of its villages.
Thus, green marketing plays a key role with the following: methodological study and exploitation of the natural capital of the Peloponnese, adequate exploitation of the peculiarities and characteristics of the individual regions and complementarity of the emerging phenomenon of agrotourism with strong impetus in the market of ecologically produced food and the market for green products in general.
The implementation of various economic policy measures can not be overcome. This implies the urgent adoption of appropriate tax and other measures that should encourage forms of sustainable tourism development. In an ideal case, mass tourist offer should be abandoned wherever possible.
The basic idea of marketing food products, considering them as some tourist products, lies in the idea that the visitor, the consumer of the tourist product, not only receives food and drink as a partial tourist product, but also satisfies quantitatively, qualitatively, aesthetically, ethnological, gastronomic and every other meaning and should be pleased with additional individual tourist products in immaterial form ie services that will ultimately be manifested in an increase in housing and especially in non-residential consumption (Meler, 2002).
These could be achieved primarily by exploring the needs, needs and expectations of tourist consumers, analyzing current trends and carefully applying them to traditional and native gastropods of individual regions. This at the same time increases the attractiveness of specific tourist destinations or regions and contributes to the image of a country as a producer of quality food, which can lead to improved opportunities for direct exports of food products abroad.
Enhancing the synergies between agro-livestock production and tourism is of the utmost importance for the sustainability of both sectors. Relationships not only do not have to be competitive but must be based on interdependence and cooperation. Let's not forget that the development of one sector has benefited the other, for example, improving tourism infrastructure has also facilitated the farming sector, because it has reduced production and transport costs.
Greece is a country where local products of high nutritional value and culture are produced due to the Mediterranean climate of the region and our rich cultural tradition. The potential to promote these products through our developed tourism sector needs to be constantly exploited and strengthened. The interconnection of agri-food and tourism can be a lever for the Greek economy with multiple benefits for both sectors.
Consuming local food products by tourists for an increasing number of travelers is a valuable experience for understanding the culture of a place. In the age of mass production of food, globalization and product homogenization, an increasing number of tourists are looking for authentic experiences through culinary delights (Chhabra, 2010).
The exact reasons that led to this consumer behavior are not clear, but in some cases the food crisis of previous years, as well as the growing concerns about food quality and safety (Morris & Young, 2000), are incriminated. Tourists expressed their dissatisfaction with mass-produced products and tour operators began to look for something different and specialized to meet their needs, turning to the traditional lifestyle, in a healthy and friendly environment (Boissevain, 1996).
Taking advantage of this tendency of tourists to consume local food products and by enhancing the cooperation of the agri-food and tourism sectors, the benefits are multiplied for all participants, ie farmers, tourism businesses, tourists, but also for the regional development of an economy in general . Tourist destinations that do not provide high multiplier benefits and levels of synergies will not bring significant economic growth and may increase feelings of aversion to the tourist industry among locals (Cohen, 1982).
On the farmers' and livestock side, the continuing tourism demand for local agricultural products leads to the encouragement of production and the development of the sector. When producers know the needs of buyers, they are able to identify the type and volume of products they produce and diversify and improve production. Communication with the tourism industry helps producers understand the business environment, the tourism industry and the potential business risks to follow the most appropriate business plan for the sustainability of their businesses.
On the tourism side, cooperation with the agri-food sector is very important. First of all, hotels and restaurants, knowing farmers and local products, can offer their customers high quality and superior nutritional value, avoiding massive supply from abroad through large commercial chains. Thus, they are in a position to compete with similar businesses by providing a diversified tourist product.
The decline in food prices procured by tour operators leads to an increase in their profits, resulting in attracting investment and increasing employment across the tourism industry. Without the existence of cross-sectoral cooperation and sustainable synergies between tourism demand and other areas of the host country, tourism fails to activate local entrepreneurship (Lacher and Nepal, 2010a, 2010b; Kausar et al.2011).
Synergies help workers in the tourism industry as well, as they develop know-how and skills as well as students in tourism professions that acquire knowledge and job opportunities. But supplying the tourism sector with local production also favors tourists who are able to experience fresh, different products with the identity of a place.
Enhanced synergies between the two sectors help to stop the foreign exchange leak due to imports of foreign food supplied by tourist units to meet their needs.


In order to capture the existing synergies between the primary sector and tourism, but also to record the mood and possibilities for creating new partnerships, primary data was collected from companies directly related to tourism and who can develop collaborations with the agri-food sector , ie hotels and accommodations operating in the geographical unity of the Peloponnese.
 Primary data came from completed questionnaires referring to a sample of hotel accommodations with a restaurant or breakfast in all categories. The survey was carried out in the period June-October 2013 and involved 155 hotels from all over the Peloponnese that have F & B departments in a total of about 1000 hotels in the wider region.
 For the collection of data from the hotels a questionnaire was distributed via email and / or physical presence. The questionnaire was composed very carefully and included the following sections:
Table 1 Axes of questionnaire thematic fields used for primary research

All the hotels that participated in the survey stated that they are operating in the 12 months of the year.
The results show that the hotels of the study area consume a great deal of local products from the following categories of food: cereal bakery, fruit, vegetables and dairy products, while local products are used in the food categories: fat-oils and seafood.
In terms of home-made beverages and beverages, the local wines are said to be preferred by 72% of the sample hotels, followed by beers and refreshments.
In addition, the reasons why local products are not preferred to certain categories of foods and beverages are recorded and, based on the results, the reason for the overwhelming majority of hotels as the most important of 68% is the higher cost of local products, followed by the complete lack of products by 28%, the lower demand for domestic products by tourists with 16% and finally the incomplete or inefficient cooperation with the suppliers in a percentage 12%.
In contrast to the previous question, the support of the local economy was mentioned as the most important reason for choosing local products by 80%. The best quality of Greek products is 56% and the lowest cost in selected categories of local products is 16%.
It is noteworthy that no one has said that he chooses the use of local products because he has some cooperation with companies in the primary sector.
Also, in a question about whether and when there was some form of cooperation with agri-food producers, the overwhelming majority of companies replied that although they prefer to source local products, they have not developed any such cooperation with local producers to supply supplies food products.
Finally, with regard to the strategies that respondents expect to help strengthen the synergies of tourism operators with local producers, responses were varied as there was a choice of more than one predefined answer or blank answer. The protagonists of the strategies appeared, as expected, to increase the availability of products in certain categories and to reduce the cost of local products that were previously answered and as the most important reasons for synergies.
An important strategy is the promotion and promotion of domestic products through the development of gastronomic tourism, followed by the improvement of the distribution network of local products.


Strengthening synergies between the primary and the tourism sectors can be achieved through a series of strategies at both national and regional level. These policies, irrespective of the level at which they are implemented, need to be complementary and mutually reinforcing in order to achieve the desired results.
At national level, it is necessary to develop policy incentives to boost the consumption of domestic products by tourism companies through policies to lower local commodity prices, which are considered to be the main reasons for avoiding their use. The fall in the prices of agricultural products will be through a series of measures to reduce production costs. Investments aimed at reducing dependence on cost-intensive energy sources, for example, can contribute to this direction. geothermal energy.
The reduction of production costs can also contribute to the implementation of innovative services such as "intelligent agriculture" that approaches the production process holistically (eg irrigation, plant-based lubrication, recording of environmental parameters favoring pest infestation from specific insects or diseases, etc.)
At the same time, measures should be promoted to reduce the cost of production with tax relief (I.V.A, contributions to funds k.a), but also to combat tax evasion. In addition, state bodies should provide incentives for producers, such as easier access to finance or tax cuts in order to participate in cooperative societies and organized groups.
At regional level, we have seen that many regions have realized the need to link the primary to the tourism sector and have created agri-food partnerships to promote and promote local products. Regional policies are moving in the right direction, but further steps need to be taken to quickly get the desired results.
The aim of local government should be to encourage the networking of producers and businesses through the continuous cultivation of a climate of confidence and facilitating stakeholder communication. Initiatives are needed to make the benefits of synergies known and clear to all involved.
In order to achieve this, it is essential for economic operators involved in food production and processing as well as with gastronomic and hotel units to incorporate green marketing into their marketing policy as a set of knowledge and business philosophy. Through these efforts there will be more equal regional development as well as the significant multiplier effect that will reflect on all economic activities directly or indirectly related to the tourism product and consequently to the whole economic and social system through increased employment and prosperity.
In short, in managing regional development, we must bear in mind the achievement of the described synergy, which at the same time represents the key factor and one of the fundamental objectives to transform the comparative advantages into competitive advantages and finally contribute to achieving the long- sustainable development for the benefit of current and future generations.


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