The 7th World Trails Conference (WTC) was a great success for Kythera Hiking. The conference was hosted by the most famous trail in the world, the Camino De Santiago, September 26-29, 2018 in the center of the UNESCO-protected medieval town. It was a unique experience for all the participating trail professionals and Kythera Hiking had a dynamic presence, becoming one of the most widely celebrated development programmes.
Some of the best trails in the world were represented at the conference like the Appalachian Trail of the U.S.A. and the Bruce Trail of Canada, with which Kythera is twinned. Among other notable speakers, Manuel Butler Halter, president of UNWTO, Galeo Saintz, chair of the World Trails Network (WTN) and Suh Myong Sook, patron of WTN and founder of these biennial conferences, took the stage of the WTC 2018. Within the frames of the conference, dozens of presentations, workshops and special sessions took place addressing the latest trends and challenges the trail industry is facing in relation to heritage conservation, modern trail use, network sustainability, pilgrimage routes etc. The conference concluded that more work needs to be done in the following areas: science-based approaches to trail development, knowledge exchange, sustainable trail building and creating toolbox for data collection.
In the session titled ‘Trails & Culture’, Rigas Zafeiriou presented the methodological approach as well as the tools and innovations that MedINA (Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos) has developed for the integrated management of the programme of Kythera. At the last day, Fivos Tsaravopoulos, from the social enterprise ‘Paths of Greece’, presented Kythera as a hiking destination highlighting the rich natural and cultural heritage, the breathtaking landscape diversity and other unique characteristics of the island. The trails of Kythera attracted great interest and the team connected with inspiring trail professionals in order to shape important collaborations. The people of Kythera Hiking played an instrumental role in coordinating all the trail organizations from the Mediterranean countries and laid the foundations for the creation of the Mediterranean Hub, under the banner of the World Trails Network. Some preliminary ideas of the Hub are to attract volunteers from the Americas to Kythera for trail maintenance and to start the procedure for twinning with Lebanon Mountain Trail (‘Friendship Trails’). The future of trails is very promising, since hiking is currently the most popular activity in the adventure tourism sector, which is booming worldwide.
Kythera Hiking: Kythera Hiking is the programme for the development of an integrated trail network and sustainable tourism on Kythera Island, Greece. Our vision is to enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the island while helping the local community thrive. The programme is supported and implemented by the Kytherian Foundation for Culture and Development(KIPA), the Municipality of Kythera and Antikythera, Kythera’s Domestic Estate Management Committee (Enchorios) and the Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (MedINA).
World Trails Conference (WTC): The WTC is being organized by the World Trails Network in collaboration with local governments and organizations every two years. This year, it’s 7th edition was hosted for the first time in Europe. The first 5 conferences took place, beginning in 2010, in Jeju Island in Korea, organized by the Jeju Olle Foundation. The 6th conferencetook place in Tottori prefecture of Japan, which is twinned with Kythera. [Links: https://santiagoworldtrails2018.com/ / http://worldtrailsnetwork.org/conference2018/ ]
World Trails Network (WTN): The WTN is the global trail organization, which was officially founded in 2012 at the 3rd World Trails Conference. It is registered as a non-profit organization in Switzerland and it has two regional hubs: the Asia Trails Network and the Hub for the Americas. The 7th conference laid the foundations for the creation of the Mediterranean Hub. The mission of WTN is the improvement of trails and the advancement of the global trail industry. [Link: https://worldtrailsnetwork.org/]