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Slow Tourism and the Preservation of Ionian Culture

Preservation and sustainability is incredibly important to us at Ionian Kind. Accommodating mass tourism on the Ionian islands potentially threatens local traditions as well as the local environment. In spite of Corfu’s agricultural traditions, the expansion of tourist infrastructure has resulted in an increasing abandonment of productive lands, leading to a greater dependence on food imports. Moreover, making room for more and more arrivals each year has compromised the recreational land available for local use and the health of the islands’ ecosystems. Evidently, this creation of  a tourist monoculture is detrimental to the islands’ local culture, traditions, environment and businesses. 

One of the less-discussed aspects of the slow fashion movement is cultural sustainability. Simply put, cultural sustainability describes the ‘successful transmission of traditional knowledge to future generations’ (source). Fast fashion poses a threat to cultural preservation in a number of ways; firstly, traditional methods and processes in clothes production are often neglected by the fast fashion industry, in which clothing designs move rapidly from catwalks to stores for mainstream consumption to meet new trends. In addition, patronising fast-fashion conglomerates represents a failure to support and re-invest in the local economy. Thus, as Danica Ratte argues, by buying products instead from sustainable, local brands, whose processes are inextricably tied to the local culture, the consumer can ‘actively help preserve and protect this particular piece of culture’ (source).

One of our main pillars at Ionian Kind is the promotion and preservation of our local Ionian culture. The historical and cultural influences of the Venetians, French and British are evident to this day in the islands’ architecture, cuisine and dialect. Furthermore, being the rainiest region in Greece, their fertile land makes the islands ideal for agriculture; the island of Corfu specifically is renowned for its production of dairy products, wine, citrus fruits, and olive oil. To an international audience, however, the Ionian islands are possibly best known as a tourist destination. The huge influx of visitors throughout the summer months has led to an increasing economic reliance on tourism; the industry now accounts for over 60% of the seven islands’ GDP. 

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