European Small Islands Federation

Archive for Tourism

No plastic bags for Christmas, please!


From Tilos to Samothrace and from Alonnisos to Lipsi islands, 49 schools across the Aegean Sea took part in a campaign organised by DAFNI – the Network of Sustainable Greek Islands, in collaboration with the Hellenic Recycling Agency.

It was part of the European Week for Waste Reduction and engaged 1708 students from 28 Greek islands. Teachers together with municipality representatives handed out ecological cloth bags to students, highlighting the importance of re-use for waste reduction – plastic in particular. During the action, participants delivered presentations and discussed the need for product re-use and repair, which will help islands transition into a circular economy path.

This is a particularly important for island regions, where the intense seasonal demand for services takes a heavy toll on both infrastructures and resources, making sustainable resource and waste management an imperative for sustainable local development.

Adding Greek islands on the EWWR map of areas that are frontrunners in waste reduction and responsible resource use is meant to also underscore the potential of islands to emerge as test-beds that can host pilot projects and produce knowledge on smart and efficient resource and infrastructure management, tapping the synergies between energy, transport, water and waste.

Thank you DAFNI and let’s hope for an un-wasted, happy new 2018!

Plastic on quai

The Wizards of Iž


Iž  [pronounced îːʒ] is a limestone and dolomite island in Croatia with an area of 18 sq km and 615 residents. It is situated an hour’s ship ride from Zadar. Summertime, the island is very popular amongst foreign tourists, largely due to its clear waters and beautiful beaches. It is a ”two-word island”, well known among crossword puzzlers.

Wanting to extend their tourist season and to fund the renovating of the local school, the inhabitats of Iž arranged the first ski race ever on a Dalmatian island. They brought trucks with 60 tons of snow on the ferry to the island. On December 23, the ”Iž Snow Queen Trophy” brought more than a thousand visitors to the island.

The 70 skiers came from Zadar, Split, Zagreb, Slovenia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Austria and even a five-member ski team from Sweden. The winner was a young man from Zadar.

The real winners are the kids of Iz since the proceeds will be used to renovate the local school, with all event costs being covered by sponsors and the Zadar Tourist Board.

Merry Christmas!


From street view to sheep view


Tired of waiting for Google to map the archipelago, smart Faroe Islanders have launched Sheep View 360, enlisting their ovine population to do the leg work, reports The Guardian

Living across 18 tiny sub-polar islands in the north Atlantic, Faroe islanders are used to working in difficult conditions. So tired of waiting for Google Street View to come and map the roads, causeways and bridges of the archipelago, a team has set up its own mapping project, see their superb website Sheep View 360.

With the help of a local shepherd and a specially built harness built by a fellow islander, Durita Dahl Andreassen of Visit Faroe Islands has fitted five of the island’s sheep with a 360-degree camera. The islands have a population of 80,000 sheep and 49,188 humans.

As well as obviously helping promote the island to visitors, the project is part of a campaign to convince Google to come to the island to complete the mapping project. Visit Faroe Islands have launched a petition and the hashtag #wewantgooglestreetview to promote its case.

But would Google Street View ruin the beauty that comes from being such an isolated place? “I think that we’re ready for this,” says Andreassen. “It’s a place that has always been so hidden and far away from everything, but I think that we are ready to invite people to the place.”

Guardian contacted Google to ask if they had any plans to map the Faroe Islands. They would not comment, but pointed out that anyone is welcome to create their own Street View experiences and apply to borrow Google’s camera equipment.

It’s not the first time a project has brought together Google Street View and sheep. Last year the Google Sheep View blog was launched, which collected images of sheep found on Street View to celebrate the year of the sheep.

Paradise Lost?


When on Lesvos for the ISISA Islands of the World Conference in may, I met with Muna Mohamed from the Maldives. Her book “Falhu Alira Muiy” was just about to be published on forced migration and atoll development in her native island world.

Yes, the Maldives are not in the ESIN part of the world – but sometimes we may need to look beyond our own horizon. Since 1965, they are the republic Dhivehi Raa’jeyge Jumhooriyya with 342.00 islanders living on some 200 of their 1.192 islands, which are grouped in 26 atolls. It is one of the world’s most dispersed countries with an area of 90,000 square kilometres which would stretch from Orkney to Isle of Wight if transferred to Europe.

Munas book is in Dhivehi (Maldivian) but the following is a translation of a foreword written by Salma Fikry:

“For several years, we in the Maldives have accepted that we are a country with few natural resources. Our development policies were formulated and implemented with the underlying justification that the biggest challenge to our development was the highly dispersed nature of sparsely populated communities, over a vast spread of the ocean.

This being the case, it was seen as unfeasible to provide services and opportunities to every inhabited island. Priority was given to develop the capital island Male’ and subsequently, Vilingili or ViliMale’ (a resort island in the vicinity of Male’ changed to an inhabited island). Since then, we saw a huge stretch of land reclaimed near Male’, that is HulhuMale’, and the efforts to develop and relocate Maldivians to the artificial island of HulhuMale’. In recent years, we also witnessed a grand project in the lagoon of Gulhi nearby Male’. And today we witness the reclamation of land for HulhuMale Phase II.

These projects at creating artificial islands took place while there remained already existing natural land, undeveloped and underdeveloped, in the north, mid and south of Maldives. Development policies were formulated and implemented such that Maldivians were forced to abandon their land/homes and migrate to one corner of the country. The trend continues even today and at a much more alarming pace.

While we Maldivians accepted ours as a country with few natural resources and understood this factor as the most challenging to our development as a nation; the truth is that a select few individuals became powerful, wealthy oligarchs using the same “few” natural resources. It is also a reality that the gap between the rich and the poor continued to widen through the years. It is also an undeniable fact that the development disparity in income, services and opportunities are glaringly obvious between the capital and the atolls of he Maldives.

Maldivians are paying a high social and economic cost for development policies that enforce atoll populations to migrate to Male’ – the capital island, which today, is among the most congested places on earth.A place, burdened with environmental degradation and ever increasing crimes. Regardless, our development policies are still geared in that very same direction that has brought us to the present unsustainable, inequitable development. We are still pursuing policies and investing our finances to congest all Maldivians into one little corner of our archipelago, while abandoning the rest.

Today, we should ask ourselves what will happen to our birthright, i.e the land we leave behind and its natural capital, as we migrate to one corner of the country, in the perusal of better development opportunities and services. Today, we should question who will gain the benefits of the land, the lagoons, the reefs, the seas and other natural resources that we as Maldivians proudly thought belonged to us.”

Thilafushi island, "rubbish island" © Giulio Paletta

Bengalese workers at the dump on Thilafushi island, the so-called “rubbish island” created to collect and burn all the garbage coming from the capital island Male and all the tourists resorts © Giulio Paletta

Baby boom island

Georg Fredrik and Jim

Rathlin Island is the only inhabited island of Northern Ireland, of particular importance for its nesting seabirds, its heathland habitats and rare nudibranchs. Four areas are designated as Areas of Special Scientific Interest (Kinramer South, Ballygill North, Ballycarry and the Rathlin coast). In addition, the offshore reefs, vegetated cliffs, sea caves and shallow covered sandbanks have been designated as an EU Special Area of Conservation. As Irish voters supported REMAIN 56 percent to 44 percent last Friday, newspapers say there is a possibility that a UK exit from the EU could provide renewed momentum for Northern Ireland to try to leave the UK and unify with the rest of Ireland.

Rathlin adopted a development strategy in 2005 with its main focus on developing a sustainable tourism, very thorough with an audit of the islands’ carrying capacity for tourism, a market overview, a survey, benchmarks including Fair Isle, Gigha, Papa Westray and the Faroe Islands, a SWOT, a strategy, and an action plan. It seems to be working well since Rathlin has doubled its population in ten years, from 75 residents in 2001 to 130 in 2014. An RTE radio broadcast on July 25th 2014 reports a baby boom in 2014 with five babies being born that year!

Around 40,000 people visit the island every year, mainly during the nesting seabird season. Access to and from Rathlin is reached by regular ferries from Ballycastle, though visitors must travel as pedestrians unless they intend to make an extended stay. Businesses on the island are mainly in tourism. The ferry service is the island’s biggest employer.

Recently, my brother Fredrik and his friends Jim and Georg, visited the island for the sake of the nudibranchs (shell-less marine mollusk of the order Nudibranchia; a sea slug). Fredrik is  Swedish marine biologist, Jim is a Scottish architect and fan of nudibranchs as you can see here (, Greg is  a professional diver from Scotland. Their visit was organised by Bernard Picton, a legend among nudibranchers (

Photos (courtesy Fredrik Pleijel shows the passenger and vechicle ferries, the shores with chalk and black basalt stones, brown algae, a curious seal and the nudibranchs: Jonolus cristatus, Aegires punctilucens & Flabellina lineata.


Opportunity for young islanders who want to study tourism


The Observatory on Tourism in the European Islands (OTIE) offers an interesting opportunity for young people of the European Islands.

It is a higher training course in Economics Hospitality Management, Food & Beverage organized by the University of Palermo in partnership with Italian and European leading companies of the hospitality industry. Courses to be held in Palermo from April to December 2016 are based on hands-on learning with:

  • 700 hours of internship
  • 400 hours of independent study for project works
  • 360 hours of lessons by academics and experts
  • 40 hours of special-topic seminars by professionals from United States and Europe.

The Leading companies offer 30 Stage with reimbursement of expenses for the most deserving students and 11 scholarships covering the total cost of the course.

This initiative represents a great opportunity for young people of your islands and for the development of tourism on your island.