The implementation of the principles of the Local Agenda 21 for the sustainable tourist development of Less Favored Areas: The case of the small islands of the Aegean Sea

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Local Agenda 21 (LA 21) is the consequence of the raise of international aware ness concerning the need to implement an elementary framework of principles aiming at sustainable development and covering all human activities. It consists of a series of action plans the implementation of which guarantees sustainability and viability. As far as travel and tourism are concerned, LA 21 is the key instru ment for the protection of the natural as well as the human related environment, which are the two major resources of the "tourism industry". Implementing the LA 21 action plans is of great interest for the tourism destinations, where the multiple negative impacts generated by the concentration of tourist activities have placed actions towards the enhancement of sustainable tourist develop ment at the top of the region’s priority list. For the Less Favored Areas (LFAs) of Greece, which in their vast majority are islands, tourism is, if not the unique, one of the most important opportunities for development and one which besides being imposed by economic, social and geographical terms, is also the strategic choice that will permit the exploitation of the limited competitive advantages of the areas in question. The environmental as well as the social characteristics of these areas necessitate the development of tourist activity in the context of the principle of sustainability, rendering thus LA 21 a functional "compass" in the difficult quest for sustainable tourist development. This paper aims to present the ways in which the main principles of LA 21 can be implemented, the sort of difficulties to be faced and specificities to be dealt with in LFAs and more specifi cally in the small and less developed islands of the Aegean Sea.


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