Exploring the Potential for Speleotourism Development in Greece by Dimitrios Mylonopoulos

www.tourismlaw.pt Exploring the Potential for Speleotourism Development in Greece Dimitrios Mylonopoulos University of West Attica | Greece International Journal of Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Law PRE-PRINT

Exploring the Potential for Speleotourism Development in Greece DIMITRIOS MYLONOPOULOS Professor University of West Attica / Greece Department of Tourism Management Abstract “Speleotourism” is an alternative or special form of tourism, and according to the Greek law, is part of the broader category of “Geotourism”. In Greece, despite the vast speleological wealth, the special and alternative form of speleotourism has not been exploited properly. In 2018, the law conceptually defined the concept of thematic tourism, and included caves in geotourism, which falls under the broader category of rural tourism. This paper has been based on research of the institutional framework and case law that refer directly or indirectly to the protection of caves (σπήλαια=spilaia) and the development of speleotourism (=σπηλαιοτουρισμός) or cave tourism. In addition, operating caves and their management bodies have been recorded, using official websites of both public (state) and private institutions as well as of speleological institutions. It appears that the complicated and unclear legal framework regulating research, ownership and supervision of caves in Greece contributes to their nonexploitation. This research concludes that a) is necessary the recording in a single database the existing exploited caves of the country, b) the creation of a “registry of exploited tourist caves” and c) the development of a clear legislative framework that shall promote and exploit them. Also, the differentiation of caves, geographical, geological or cultural, requires their integration into regional plans of tourism policy so that the tourist flows generated are more rational and the promotion of speleotourism as an alternative and sustainable form of tourism is achieved. Keywords: Legal framework, Geotourism, Cave tourism, Speleotourism, Ecotourism, Greece 1. Cave tourism / Speleotourism During the past few decades, in the field of tourism, there has been frequent use of the terms sustainable tourism, alternative tourism, ecotourism, nature tourism, green tourism, thematic tourism, etc. The term “ecotourism” is unclear, confusion

ISSN 2184-8793 ISSNe 2975-9056 emerging mainly concerning its origin. Hvenegaard (1994) and Orams (1995) argue that the term was first used in late 1980s. Romeril (1985, p. 216) argued that the possibility of a symbiotic relationship between tourism and environmental protection was noted for the first time in 1976 by Budowski. Budowski, however, though he did refer to many of the characteristics of “ecotourism”, did not in fact use this term. Thompson (1995) considers that the first person to use the term ecotourism is Ceballos-Lasurain in early 1980s (Fennell, 2001, p. 58). Fennell (2001) argues that the term “ecotourism” is attributed to Hetzer (1965), who identified four pillars or principles of responsible tourism, i.e. minimizing environmental impacts, respecting local culture, maximizing benefits for the local population and maximizing satisfaction for tourists. The first pillar is the most important feature of ecological tourism or ecotourism (Fennell, 2001). In general, ecotourism refers to a trip to relatively undisturbed or uncontaminated natural areas, aiming at studying, admiring and enjoying the landscape and wildlife, as well as any cultural event that can take place in these areas. Ecotourism refers to the conservation of natural resources, the use of the environment without causing pollution and the awareness through environmental education (Yeoman, 2001). The concept of ecotourism is understood as the wise use of natural and cultural resources in a tourist destination for current and future generations (Weaver & Lawton, 2007). Geotourism is considered as one of the many types of ecotourism or nature tourism (Dowling & Newsome, 2005). It is defined as a tourist activity associated with geology and geomorphology, a landscape’s natural resources, landforms, fossils, rocks and minerals, with emphasis on assessing the processes that have created and continue to create such special geological forms (Buckley, 2003). Geotourism is often referred to as a form of nature tourism that focuses more on geosystem (Gray, 2011; Newsome & Dowling, 2010). Thus, it refers to the promotion and development of tourism in areas of geological interest. A first attempt at determining geotourism as “geological tourism” was made by Hose (1995), who identified it as a form of tourism that focuses on geology and landscape. It promotes tourism in geotopes (volcanoes, caves, canyons, fossil sites, major geological faults, ancient, historical and some inactive mines and quarries, geoforms and landscapes created by nature during geological ages) and strives to keep geodiversity and understand earth science through learning and assessment. This is achieved through visits to areas with geological characteristics, the use of the geotopes’ geo - routes and points of pleasure, with tours, geo activities and management of geotopes’ visitors’ centers (Dowling & Newsome, 2006). Dowling (2013) points that the term “geological” views geotourism as a type or form of tourism, while the term “geographical” views it more as an approach to tourism, like sustainable tourism. According to National Geographic (2005), geotourism is the tourism that preserves or enhances the geographical character of a place and its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents. Geotourism nowadays helps travelers enhance their knowledge of natural resources and the cultural identity of host societies (Farsani, Coelho & Costa, 2011). Individuals traveling individually or

International Journal of Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Law in groups and visiting natural areas or areas where there is a geological attraction are considered Geotourists. Geotourism was also studied to identify the characteristics of tourists visiting mining sites as cultural resources, but also the industrial heritage as a tourist resource (Ballesteros & Ramirez, 2007; Chon & Evans, 1989; Edwards & Liurdes, 1996; Wanhill, 2000). The concept of geotourism includes visiting caves, as leisure, discovering wonders of nature and learning, all being referred to as speleotourism (from the Greek word σπήλαιον=cave) or cave tourism. Every natural underground cavity, large or small, horizontal or vertical, opened by various causes (mainly by the effect of water) that communicate with the surface is characterized as a cave (Πετροχείλου, 2006). Since natural caves have, by nature, inherent beauty and intense mystery, particularly as regards the way they were created, they are considered potential tourist resources. Thus, the governing bodies in areas where there are natural caves with geomorphological features, show great interest in exploiting and preserving them, targeting at attracting more visitors in the future. The tourist resources of speleotourism are based on scientific, aesthetic and cultural values as well as recreational values (Tongkul, 2005). The scientific value refers to the existence of significant geological "files", the history of the cave’s formation, mineralogy etc. The aesthetic values refer to the mystery and miracle of the creation of geomorphological formations of caves and the environmental landscape. The recreational values refer to the delight of exploring the interior of the cave, sailing in the underground water of caves, hiking and camping in the area around the caves, which are usually located in valleys in mountainous terrain, near waterfalls, beaches, or limestone areas. Finally, the cultural values are linked with rituals and superstitions, beliefs and desires of residents, their traditional importance, as well as historical and archaeological evidence. 2. The speleological wealth of Greece Man and caves are linked since prehistoric times, since caves were used as a dwelling, a refuge, a place of worship, storage area, even as graves. In Greek mythology there are many references to spilaia meaning caves that hosted gods and demigods, such as the Ideon Andron (where according to Greek mythology, Zeus was raised (Μοίρα, 2018) and the Dikteon Andron, where according to ancient tradition Rhea resorted to give birth to Zeus (Μοίρα, 2005), caves in Crete, the cave of Hermes (where, according to ancient tradition Rhea resorted to give birth to Zeus ) in Ziria / Achaia etc. Traces of habitation have been found in many caves, such as the cave "Red Rocks" in Petralona - Halkidiki, the cave "Alepotrypa" in Dyros - Laconia, the cave "Theopetra" in Trikala, etc. Moreover, caves have constituted a haven for many species of animals, traces of which were discovered nowadays (e.g. a type of panthers in the cave "Glyfada" of Dyros, cave bears in the Pozar cave in Aridaia and Perama

ISSN 2184-8793 ISSNe 2975-9056 Cave of Ioannina, a kind of elephant in the Vamos cave etc. Many caves are also connected with modern Greek history, like the caves in Chios that were shelters against the slaughter of the Turks in 1822, the cave-cliff of Feneos in Korinthia, where hundreds of people were precipitated during the civil war in 1943 (Χατζάρας , 2013) etc. Caves, from a biological perspective, constitute closed and stable ecosystems, particularly susceptible to external influences. In Greece caves, the temperature is usually fixed at 16 to 18° C, with intense humidity, which may reach 100 % (e.g. in the cave Drogorati in Kefalonia with humidity of 90%, or the cave of Agios Georgios in Kilkis with 95% humidity) and a total absence of natural light in the deepest halls. Many animal species usually live in caves. These species are fully adapted to the specific living conditions and are very easily disturbed by the changes occurring in the cave environment (Παπαθανάσογλου & Παινέση, 2006). The most characteristic feature of caves is their decoration, i.e., stalactites and stalagmites, which create unique formations and attract the interest of visitors. The biological activity of caves in conjunction with the paleontological and archaeological remains that are very often found in caves as well as in the excellent, impressive and unique decor, make them "living museums". Thus, caves, besides their purely geological importance, are extremely interesting from a paleontological, biological, archaeological, historical, folkloric and aesthetical point of view. Also, although it is not widely known in Greece, there are caves which are interesting due to their thermal properties. According to studies, the environment of caves has thermal properties, thanks to the trace elements of their microclimate. For example, the cave of St. George in Kilkis is a typical example, studied by Czech scientists in 1987 and 1997, proving that the visit to it may help in treating childhood asthma, as well as dermatological diseases. (Ανιχνευτές, 2014). Greece stands out for its wide spread of limestone rocks (60%), which explains the creation of a very large number of caves [more than 10,000 acknowledged caves, while there is a great possibility that at least that many others exist, but are still unknown] (Παπαθανάσογλου & Παινέση, 2006). In Greece, interest in caves began after 1920. The first institution that realized the importance of caves to the national economy and tourism and undertook the exploitation of caves was the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), often in cooperation with the Greek Speleological Society. In the 1960s the tourism development of caves began (caves in Diros - Laconia, cave in Paiania) so that man would appreciate the greatness of nature and at the same time boost economic development in the areas where these caves are located. 3. The Research Research was carried through aiming at finding out exactly how caves are exploited in Greece. Legal databases were used, of ministries and other institutions, to

International Journal of Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Law determine the current institutional framework for the protection of caves in Greece in conjunction with International Conventions of Protection of Natural and Cultural Heritage. Research was made through the Government Gazette (www.et.gr), the legal site lawdb.intrasoftnet.com, the data base DIAVGEIA (Transparency Program initiative http://diavgeia.gov.gr/ & et.diavgeia.gov.gr), as well as the websites of Local Authorities. In addition, research was made to discover the exploited caves which can be visited by the public, initially through the website of the competent Ministry of Culture and Sports (Odysseus) and then through the official website of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, of Ministry of Tourism as well as of private institutions (Speleological Federation, Speleological Hellenic Athletic Club etc.). Finally, google was used with the keywords in Greek “σπήλαια/spilaia= caves” (405.000 results) and “σπηλαιοτουρισμός/speleotourism=cave tourism” (οnly 513 results). In English the same keywords returned 800.000.000 (cave) and 29.500 (cave tourism) and 2.040.000 (speleotourism) results. The results of the research were the following: a) No single data base exists concerning the number of existing caves in Greece and the number of exploited caves. b) As regards public entities, the Ministry of Tourism through its website (https://www.visitgreece.gr/el/search/?q=%CF%83%CF%80%CE%AE%CE%B B%CE%B1%CE%B9%CE%B1&section=Experiences) numbers about 90 caves per prefecture in Greece, without however providing any reference to other websites or information regarding their exploitation or frequency of visits to them or information on their management bodies. The Ministry of Culture on its website numbers 111 caves (instead of 86 caves in 2014) (http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/2/gh23.jsp?letter=18). The data include description of archaeological finds and information on the competent Ephorate of Paleoanthropology - Speleology. However, the list does not match the one kept by the Ministry of Tourism, while significantly exploited caves like the Perama Cave of Ioannina, the Drogorati Cave in Kefalonia etc are absent. On the website of the Ministry of Environment (http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/2/gh23.jsp?letter=18) there is no such information. c) Finally, through research in the site DIAVGEIA, many decisions of the Ministry of Culture were spotted regarding the assignment of operation, exploitation and management of caves to local authorities. d) Existing data also vary on sites of private bodies like the SELAS Caving Club (ΣΕΛΑΣ (fhs.gr), or the Hellenic Speleological Society (http://www.ese.edu.gr/). For instance, the Hellenic Speleological Society (http://www.ese.edu.gr/default.asp?V_DOC_ID=2175) mentions 21 exploited caves, some of which are absent from the website of the Ministry of Culture, such as the Ideon Andron in Crete, while there are others that are in fact exploited but not mentioned. Also, according to the company, it hosts the BBS (Bulletin

ISSN 2184-8793 ISSNe 2975-9056 Bibliographique Speleologique) – Speleological Abstracts, which is a publication of the UIS (Union Internationale de Spéléologie) in which the international speleological bibliography is gathered. The record appears to start in 1983 and stop in 2005. The relevant links are no longer available. e) The internet research of caves through google led to the finding of very few websites of caves. Specifically, out of 30 caves (https://www.allovergreece.com/Caves/el) only 9 had their own website, while for others the information available was on websites of hotel units, local authorities or tourist offices. Also, there was a lack of information on the caves’ management bodies, on information regarding ticket prices, opening hours etc. 4. The institutional framework Greece, due to its special geological terrain, presents a wide variety of karst formations. There are more than 10,000 registered caves, which are located basically in the country’s main mountainous area, especially in areas with limestone and carbonate rocks, which play a regulatory role in hydrogeological basins. Most of these areas have been placed under the Natura 2000 protection status and the status of Special Protection Areas (Hellenic Speleological Society, 2010). The institutional framework concerning the protection, promotion, management and exploitation of caves in Greece appears to be labyrinthine and obscure. The database research showed that diverse stakeholders, both public and private, are involved in the sector. Furthermore, they vary in type, including for example the central government (Ministries/Ephorates), local self-government (Municipalities etc.) or limited liability companies (Public Properties Company). For example, the Alistrati Cave in the prefecture of Serres is a Municipal and Regional company with the main shareholders being the Municipality of N. Zichni which owns 80% of the shares and the Region of Central Macedonia which owns the remaining 20% of the shares. 4.1. The role of Central Government The Greek Constitution 1975/1986/2001/2008 includes provisions for the protection of underground resources, which include caves (Μυλωνόπουλος, 2001). Article 18 par 1 states: "Specific laws shall determine the ownership and management of mines, caves, archaeological sites and treasures, as well as thermal, running and underground waters and underground resources in general." However, to date, this specific law (provided for by the Constitution) to determine the ownership status of caves has not been issued. The first provision concerning caves was the Article 46 of Presidential Decree 941/77 on the organizational chart of the Ministry of Culture, according to which the Ephorate of Palaeoanthropology-Speleology is the competent authority for the excavation, study and protection of caves that present interest from a natural, archaeological, historical, paleontological and paleoanthropological perspective.

International Journal of Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Law Ministerial Decision no. 34593/1108/1983 (Gov. Gazette B’398) on the protection of caves came into force afterwards. According to this decision, caves were treated uniformly, without distinction as to whether signs of human presence were found inside them or not. Article 1 stipulates that: "Caves are included in the category of monuments and are considered an integral part of man’s cultural heritage, as works of man or of nature with a global historical, aesthetic, ethnological, anthropological or paleoanthropological value". Also, according to Article 2 "Caves are also considered an integral part of the archaeological heritage ...". According to the same ministerial decision, protection, research, excavation and study of caves is the responsibility of the Ephorate of Palaeoanthropology - Speleology of the Ministry of Culture. The same decision (par 4) appoints as jointly responsible for the protection of caves the regional units of the Ministry of Culture, the municipal authorities, the local police departments, in cooperation with the Ephorate of Paleoanthropology-Speleology, prohibiting any operation, exploration or “exploitation” by any Greek or foreign entity without the prior approval of the Ministry of Culture. Decision 34593/1108/1983 established the criteria for the protection of caves, in accordance with the guidelines of the International Convention signed in Paris on November 23rd, 1972 for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which was ratified by Greece by Law 1126/1981 (Gov. Gazette A’32). According to the International Convention (Article 1), monuments that are part of the "cultural heritage" explicitly include caves. Caves are also considered an integral part of the archaeological heritage, according to Article 1 of Law 1127/1981 (Gov. Gazette A’32) on the ratification of the European Convention for the protection of archaeological heritage, signed in London on May 6th, 1969. Every finding, object or any other trace of human existence, which is a testimony to eras and civilizations for which excavations or discoveries are the main source or one of the main sources of scientific discovery, are considered an archaeological object. Therefore, according to this provision, any kind of object or finding and any trace of human existence (tools, bones, etc.) found in caves is considered an archaeological object. It is obvious therefore that with the previous institutional framework caves were considered not only as natural formations but also as a part of the cultural heritage and their protection, investigation, excavation and study was assigned to the Ministry of Culture. Law 3028/2002 on the protection of antiquities and, in general, of cultural heritage (Gov. Gazette A’153), known as the archaeological law, brought about changes in the concept of monuments. Thus, according to Article 2 par b) subparagraph aa) all cultural goods dating to the prehistoric, ancient, Byzantine and post-Byzantine times up to 1830, subject to the provisions of Article 20, are considered ancient; or ancient monuments. Ancient monuments include caves and paleontological remains, for which there is evidence that they are linked to human existence.

ISSN 2184-8793 ISSNe 2975-9056 From the wording of the above law, one concludes that there is an explicit distinction of caves in two categories a) those for which there is evidence that they are linked with human existence, and b) those for which there is no such evidence. Article 6 par 4 of the same law stipulates that "ancient monumental buildings are protected by law, without requiring the issue of any administrative act", ie without requiring the issue of an act of monument characterization. Then in Article 7 par 1 there is a provision that "ancient monumental buildings dating back to 1453 are owned by the state and are things that can’t be subject to transactions or usucapion." As a result, caves are included in the monumental ancient buildings dating before 1453, for which there is evidence that they are linked to human existence. The Ministry of Culture and Sports is the competent authority for the caves of this category, i.e. caves for which there are findings proving previous human presence. According to PD 4/2018 regarding the organizational chart of the Ministry of Culture (Gov. Gazette Α’22) "the Ephorates of Palaeoanthropology - Speleology are responsible for caves and paleontological remains, for which there is evidence that they are linked with human existence; more specifically, for the identification, investigation, excavation, study as well as for the protection of caves and all kinds of findings found inside. They are also responsible for coordinating the paleoanthropological and paleontological research as well as for the promotion of the country’s speleological wealth”. The Ephorates of paleoanthropology – speleology is divided in departments, responsible for issues relating to caves. These departments are: 1) Department of Prehistoric and Historic Antiquities, responsible for planning, technically organizing and carrying through speleological excavation research of prehistoric (Palaeolithic to Bronze Age) and historic sites, for cave protection, for the study and promotion of findings in special speleological museums or exhibition halls of regional museums, as well as the stone carving lab for the study and classification of stone tools found in excavations and research. The department is also responsible for the appropriate layout of the caves and the surrounding natural environment, their conservation and protection, the supervision of current excavations, the autopsies for the identification of caves, the recording and electronic registration of cavities, positions and findings, the record keeping of photographs, drawings, maps, declarations, bibliographic information and library facilities. For the implementation of its goals, the Ephoria cooperates with the local government and local bodies and participates in European and international programs. 2) Department of Achaeological Works and Studies, Geology and Paleontology, responsible for identifying, exploring and evaluation of caves, as well as supervising the studies for their promotion, geological research and studies in terms of geomorphology, hydrogeology, paleoenvironment, sedimentology, petrology and geochemistry of the caves. Also, it is responsible for the operation of the Geological

International Journal of Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Law Laboratory, the creation of a Bank of Rocks, the research paleontological sites, as well as the study of paleontological findings, caves and open sites. The department is also responsible for the mapping and topographical survey of caves and paleontological sites, for geotechnical studies, fixings, formation and exploitation of the caves and their surrounding area. 3) Department of Conservation of Antiquities and Works of Art, responsible (among other) for the conservation of caves as well as the antiquities found inside of them. In summary, according to the archaeological law, the competent authority for the caves which are, according to evidence, linked with human existence is the Ministry of Culture and Sports. The rest of the caves, since there is no specific provision, fall under the provisions on the protection of the environment and in particular the provisions of Law 1650/1986 for the protection of the environment. According to Article 2 par 1 the environment is defined as "the sum of natural and anthropogenic factors and elements that are interacting and affecting the ecological balance, quality of life, residents’ health, as well as the historical and cultural traditions and aesthetic values. According to Article 2 par 5 of the above-mentioned law “all actions, measures and projects aiming at the prevention of the environmental degradation or restoration, maintenance or improvement” are considered as environmental protection. Furthermore, according to Article 19, par 4 (as amended by article 5, par 5b) of Law 3937/2011 on the conservation of biodiversity (Gov. Gazette A’60), which includes the criteria and principles of environmental protection, caves are included in the protected natural formations. The article stipulates that caves are included in the protected natural formations: "b) As protected natural formations are considered the components of nature or its individual creations, that have particular scientific, ecological, geological, geomorphological, or aesthetic value or contribute to the preservation of natural processes and the protection of natural resources such as trees, stands of trees and bushes, water, protective vegetation, riparian and coastal vegetation, natural fences, waterfalls, springs, canyons, dunes, reefs, caves, rocks, petrified forests, trees or portions thereof, paleontological findings, coral, geomorphological formations, geotopes (geotopes are considered by law, geologicalgeomorphological structures that are natural formations and represent important moments in the geological history of the earth, are important witnesses of its long evolution or demonstrate modern natural, geological processes that continue to evolve on the surface) and priority habitats of Community interest. The same article stipulates that the protected natural formations that have monumental character are specifically characterized as “Protected natural monuments”. The inclusion of caves in the protected natural formations is based on the categorization of Article 18, par 2 and 3 of Law 1650/1986 and indicates the intention of the legislation body to provide protection for natural formations (which include caves). Article 21 of Law 1650/1986 (and later article 6, Law 3937/2011, Gov. Gazette Α’60) provides for the procedure for the characterization of areas,

ISSN 2184-8793 ISSNe 2975-9056 elements or sets of nature and landscape. However, the procedure for the issuance of the Presidential Decree for the characterization is particularly long and complex because of the necessity of drafting a specific environmental study and because of the involvement of many institutions. Law 3997/2011 also prohibits, in accordance with the more specific protecting provisions of the characterization decision, actions or activities that may cause destruction, damage or deterioration of protected natural formations, as well as protected landscapes or their individual components. In administrative practice, the Ministry of Environment, though competent for environmental protection doesn’t act towards the protection of caves, by assuming for example the characterization of protected natural formations or by adopting studies for tourist development. It appears that, despite the explicitly set by Law 3028/2002 jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture and Sports for the protection only of caves related to human existence, in practice, the Ministry intervenes and protects all caves. The competence of the Ministry refers mainly to the approval of studies of tourist development of caves and their operation regulations. Also, Ephorates of PaleoanthropologySpeleology grant visiting permissions to scientists and cave-explorers. The fact that departments of the Ministry of Culture and Sports assume competencies without the necessary legal delegation, poses obvious legal risks, but also demonstrates the effort of the departments towards the protection of natural heritage (Παπαθανάσογλου & Παινέση, 2006). With decision no. 67659/09.12.2013 of the Coordination Committee of Government policy on Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development concerning the approval of the amendment of the Special Framework for Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development for Tourism and its Strategic Environmental Assessment. "(Gov. Gazette B’3155), issues are regulated on caves, as an alternative and special subcategory of geotourism. Specifically, it categorizes national territory, depending on the intensity and type of tourism development, on geomorphological characteristics and the sensitivity of resources (Article 4). It even foresees the use of local resources potentially capable to develop specific - alternative forms of tourism, where speleotourism (as a subcategory of geotourism) is included. Specifically, the decision foresees a) activities such as the promotion of visiting the country’s geotopes (volcanoes, caves, canyons, fossil sites, large repositories, ancient or inactive mines and quarries, landforms and landscapes created by nature, during geological centuries) and activities for their inclusion in tourist routes (thematic or not) depending on the particular (general or specific) features they present, b) ensuring accessibility and management of visitor flows with respect to each ecosystem and c) their inclusion in tourist routes (thematic or not) depending on the particular (general or specific) features they present. Finally, in 2018, Law 4582/2018 included caves in geotourism resources. According to the law, geotourism is characterized as “the form of sustainable rural tourism,

International Journal of Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Law which is based on the geological and geomorphological characterization of the geosites of tourist destinations and on the geo-conservation and interpretation of the abiotic environment. This form of tourism is motivated by the experience, knowledge and enjoyment of geodiversity and of geo-heritage, which are located, indicatively, in places of geological interest with geomorphological monuments and formations, petrified forests, active volcanoes, caves and canyons, geological faults and geoparks”. Geotourism “includes gentle activities of sightseeing and enjoying the landscape, as well as activities of a scientific and educational nature. It promotes environmental education and the management of the natural environment in a sustainable way.” 4.2. The role of Local Government Local government is a fundamental institution for Greek democracy. According to the Code of Municipalities and Communities, Law 3463/2006 (Gov. Gazette A’114), Article 1, the local government as an expression of popular sovereignty, constitutes a fundamental institution of the public life of Greeks, as guaranteed by Article 102 of the Constitution and the European Charter of Local Government (Ratified by Law 1850/1989, Gov. Gazette A’144). According to Article 102 of the Constitution 1975/1986 as replaced by the 2001 amendment (Μυλωνόπουλος, 2001), the management of local affairs belongs to the local authorities of first and second grade. For the management of local affairs, the local authorities carry the presumption of competence. The Code of Municipalities and Communities delegates to first grade local authorities’ responsibilities for both the management of local affairs as well as the management of state affairs that fall into the sphere of competence in local level, but whose responsibility has been entrusted by the State to the municipalities and communities. The responsibilities of municipalities are divided into seven areas a) development, b) environment, c) quality of life, d) employment, e) social protection and solidarity, f) education, culture and sport, and g) civil protection. In these areas Municipalities are invited to develop their action. Primary to their development is the growth of tourism for the achievement of which Municipalities have two tools provided by the new Code: the issuance of regulations and licensing. According to Article 75 of Law 3463/2006 "The municipal and community authorities manage and regulate all local affairs, in accordance with the principles of subsidiarity and proximity, in order to protect, develop and improve constantly the interests and quality of life of the local community”. The aforementioned development area includes, in particular (Article 75 par 1a) "the protection, promotion and exploitation of local natural resources and areas, of hot springs and mild or renewable energy sources, as well as the construction, maintenance and management of relevant works and facilities ... "and (Article par 1a 8)" the preparation, implementation and participation in projects regarding tourism development and the promotion of alternative forms of tourism ... ".

ISSN 2184-8793 ISSNe 2975-9056 The aforementioned environment area includes in particular (Article 75 1b) 1) "the preparation of local projects for the protection and enhancement of the natural, architectural and cultural environment...". The aforementioned area of education, culture and sport includes, in particular (Article 75 1 b 6) "the protection of museums, monuments, caves as well as archaeological and historical sites in the area and their facilities." From these provisions local authorities are responsible for matters relating to the protection, management, enhancement, and exploitation of the caves, which are located in their jurisdiction area. Within this framework, the Ministry of Culture has delegated the management of caves to local authorities. Since a single database doesn’t exist, only a few of the above management delegation decisions could be recovered and they involved particularly municipal utility authorities or municipal enterprises. Furthermore, following Article 36, par 1 Law 4049/2012 (Gov. Gazette Α’35) property and areas owned by the Greek National Tourism Organization and managed by the Public Properties Company (e.g. an area of 9.805 sq.m. with a Tourist Pavilion in the cave Kastria in Achaia) were transferred to Municipalities. 4.3. The role of the Hellenic Public Properties Company Until 1997 the GNTO was responsible for the management and exploitation of caves. The GNTO operated a public limited company in accordance with the rules of private economy and acting in favor of the public interest; it was responsible for the tourist development, management and exploitation of its property. In this context, Law 376/1976 (Gov. Gazette Α’173) established the XENIA SA. The company was dissolved under Law 2160/1993, Article 6 par 14 (Gov. Gazette Α’118), and all property automatically returned to the ownership or use of the GNTO. In 1998 Law 2636/1998 (Gov. Gazette Α’198) established a limited company called "Limited Company for the Property Development of the GNTO". The Company, following denominations, mergers and acquisitions, has been operating since 2011 under the name “Public Properties Company”. It is responsible for the management and operation of the GNTO’s property. Therefore, the Company acquired the ownership and management of caves and the surrounding land, previously belonging to the GNTO. A provision laid in Law 2557/1997 (Gov. Gazette Α’271) stipulated that by joint decision of the Ministers of Development and Culture, the Ministry of Culture would be assigned spaces under the GNTO’s supervision with archaeological or speleological interest, to ensure the archaeological or any other relevant scientific research. Furthermore, that the Minister of Culture shall expel from those spaces anyone who possesses or uses them. In addition, Article 10 par 28 of Law 3207/2003 (Gov. Gazette Α’302) stipulates that "the expulsion automatically terminates any agreement concluded between the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO)

International Journal of Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Law or the company under the name “Greek Tourism Properties SA” and any third-party concerning places assigned to the Ministry of Culture". Article 36, subpar 3 of Law 4049/2012 (Gov. Gazette Α’35) transferred to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (now Culture and Sports), without return, the ownership of real estate property belonging to the GNTO, whose management and exploitation belonged to the Public Properties Company. Among them, an area of 179.230 m² and the cave of Petralona Cave in Chalkidiki, and Koutouki Cave in Paiania, an area of 103,000 m². The transfer was repeated with Ministerial Decision ΥΠΠΟΤ/ΔΑΑΠ/Φ.01 ΓΕΝ/19007/422 (Gov. Gazette Β’929). It’s worth to mention that the Cave of Petralona in Chalkidiki is a classic case of cave management transfer to the Ministry of Culture, not done immediately however, as it was followed by many years of judicial disputes. The cave had been assigned by the Greek National Tourism Organization to the Anthropological Association of Greece. The judicial disputes for the management of the cave lasted three decades, until 2011 when Decision no. 88/2011 by the Council of State was issued and the cave was assigned to the Ministry of Culture. By the same law (Article 35, par 1), real estate property and land owned by the GNTO, managed and exploited by the Public Properties Company was transferred to Municipalities. Currently, the Public Properties Company is owner and manager only of the Dyros caves in Lakonia and has undertaken the project of restoration and promotion of the Caves through their integration, since May 2012, in the Operational Programme "Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship", with the title "Restoration and promotion of the Caves and building facilities of Diros Prefecture of Laconia - Phase II". It worth mentioned that the Hellenic Public Properties Company (HPPC) SA is making excellent use of the new digital technology. Following today’s international promotional methods for cultural and historical sites, it is giving the opportunity to visit the Diros Caves through 3D Virtual Tours. At the same time, the HPPC makes available, free of charge, the programme of 3D virtual tours to the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs giving to students the opportunity to discover the cultural and natural heritage of Greece. Also, visitors can visit Diros cave through VR tour. The virtual tour is available with the use of a purchased ticket at vr360tour.diros-caves.gr 5. Discussion It is obvious from the abovementioned institutional framework and the survey carried out, that the institutional framework for the development, promotion, protection and exploitation of tourist caves in Greece is labyrinthine, complex and unclear, leading to confusion. The fact that the specific law defining concretely the status of the caves has not been issued yet, along with the distinction of caves to those that have and those that have not been linked to human existence (with the

ISSN 2184-8793 ISSNe 2975-9056 former ones under the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, and the latter ones under nobody’s explicit responsibility) causes extra problems. The involvement of many different types of stakeholders in the identification and exploitation of caves accentuates malfunctions. The fact that these players often do not have the necessary experience and expertise creates additional problems. The inability to define a single and appropriate policy for the rational exploitation of the country’s speleological wealth aiming at the development of speleotourism is an immediate consequence of this vague institutional framework. Thus, the exploitation of caves as wealth-producing resources relies on the initiative and ability of local institutions that are generally not part of a larger and more effective tourism policy plan. 6. Conclusion From the study of the institutional framework governing caves in Greece, one can conclude that despite the constitutional protection of caves, the necessary legislation for the operation and management of caves has not been issued yet. The involvement of many different institutions in the promotion and management of caves, the lack of a uniform policy, as well as the absence of their promotion leads to a substantial degradation and ignorance of caves. It is proposed the creation of a "registry of touristically exploited caves" be set up along with a clear legislation towards their promotion and touristic development. Furthermore, the differentiation of caves, geographical, cultural or geological, requires their integration into regional plans of tourism policy so that the tourist flows generated are more rational and the promotion of speleotourism as an alternative form and sustainable form of tourism is achieved. In this direction, the program “Kallikratis” according to which the country has been divided into 13 Administrative Prefectures can contribute to a better financial and general development planning. REFERENCES Ballesteros, E.R., & Ramirez, M.H., 2007. Identity and community: Reflections on the development of mining heritage tourism in Southern Spain. Tourism Management, 28(3), pp. 677-687. Buckley, R., 2003. Environmental inputs and outputs in ecotourism: Geotourism with a positive triple bottom line? Journal of Ecotourism, 2(1), pp. 76-82. Budowski, G., 1976. Tourism and Environmental Conservation: Conflict, Coexistence, or Symbiosis? Environmental Conservation, 3(1), pp. 27-31. Chon, K., & Evans, M.R., 1989. Tourism in a rural area: A coal mining-county experience. Tourism Management, 10(4), pp. 315-321.

International Journal of Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Law Dowling, R. & Newsome, D., 2005. Geotourism's issues and challenges. In: R.K. Dowling & D. Newsome, eds., Geotourism. Burlington, MA: ButterworthHeineman, pp. 242-254. Dowling, R.K. & Newsome, D. eds., 2006. Geotourism: Sustainability, impacts and management. Oxford, UK: Elsevier/Heineman Publishers. Dowling, R.K., 2013. Global geotourism-An emerging form of sustainable tourism. Czech Journal of Tourism, 2(2), pp. 59–79. Edwards, J.A., & Liurdes, J., 1996. Mines and quarries: Industrial heritage tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 23(2), pp. 341-363. Farsani, N.T. - Coelho, C. & Costa, C., 2011. Geotourism and geoparks as novel strategies for socio-economic development in rural areas. International Journal of Tourism Research, 13(1), pp. 68-91. Fennel D.A., 2001. Ecotourism, A. Αποστολόπουλος (μετφρ). Αθήνα: Έλλην (in Greek) Gray, M., 2011. Other nature: Geodiversity and geosystem services. Environmental Conservation, 38(3), pp. 271-274. Greek Speleological Society, 2010. Available at: https://www.greeceindex.com/listing/hellenic-speleological-society/ Hose, T.A., 1995. Selling the story of Britain's stone. Environmental Interpretation, 10(2), pp. 16-17. Hose, T.A., 2010. The significance of aesthetic landscape appreciation to modern geotourism provision. In: D. Newsome, & R. Dowling, eds., Geotourism: The tourism of geology and landscape. Oxford, UK: Goodfellow Publishers, pp. 13-26. Hvenegaard, G.T., 1994. Ecotourism: a status report and conceptual framework, Journal of Tourism Studies, 5(2), pp. 24-35. National Geographic 2005. Mission Programs, Center for sustainable destinations, Geotourism Charter, Available at: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/sustainable/pdf/geotourism_cha rter_template.pdf Newsome, D. & Dowling, R.K., eds. 2010. Geotourism: The tourism of geology and landscape. Oxford, UK: Goodfellow Publishers. Orams, M.B., 1995. Towards a more desirable form of ecotourism, Tourism Management, 16(1), pp. 3-8. Thompson, P., 1995. The errant e-word: putting ecotourism back on track, Explore, 73, pp. 62-72. Tongkul, F., 2005. Geotourism in Malaysia Borneo. In: R.K. Dowling & D. Newsome εds., Geotourism. Burlington, MA: Butterworth-Heineman, pp. 26-41. Wanhill, S., 2000. Mines - a tourist attraction: Coal mining in industrial South Wales. Journal of Travel Research, 39, pp. 60-69. Weaver, D.B. & Lawton, L.J., 2007. Twenty years on: The state of contemporary ecotourism research. Tourism Management, 28(5), pp. 1168-1179. Yeoman, J. 2001. Ecotourism and sustainable development. Who owns paradise? Tourism Management, 22(2), pp. 206-208.

ISSN 2184-8793 ISSNe 2975-9056 Ανιχνευτές, 2014. Σπήλαιο Αγίου Γεωργίου στο Κιλκίς [Cave of St. George in Kilkis], Available at: http://anihneftes.wordpress.com/2013/06/29 [in Greek]. Μοίρα, Π., 2018. Τουριστική Γεωγραφία της Ελλάδας. Γεωγραφικές προσεγγίσεις στον τουρισμό [Tourist Geography of Greece, Geographical approaches to tourism]. Αθήνα: Φαίδιμος (in Greek). Μυλωνόπουλος, Δ., 2001. Το Σύνταγμα 1975/1986/2001. Νομοτεχνική προσέγγιση της αναθεώρησης του 2001 [The Constitution 1975/1986/2001. Legislative approach of the Amendment of 2001], Αθήνα: Σταμούλης (in Greek). Παπαθανάσογλου, Α. & Παινέση, Μ.Μ., 2006. Σπήλαια και η προστασία τους [Caves and their protection], Ανεξάρτητη Αρχή, Ιούλιος-Δεκέμβριος, τ. 2, Αθήνα: Αντ. Σάκκουλας (in Greek). Πετροχείλου, A., 2006. Τα σπήλαια της Ελλάδας [The caves of Greece], Αθήνα: Εκδοτική Αθηνών (in Greek). Χατζάρας, Σ., 2013. Μνημόσυνο την Κυριακή στον Φενεό [Sunday Memorial in Feneos]», Αντιπληροφόρηση, July 10th, Available at: http://antipliroforisi.blogspot.gr/2013/07/blog-post_8919.html (in Greek). GREEK LEGISLATION Decision No 67659/12.09.2013 of the Coordination Committee of Government policy on Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development (Gov Gazette Α’3155) "Approval of the amendment of the Special Framework for Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development for Tourism and its Strategic Environmental Assessment”. Decision No 88/2011 by the Council of State. Decision ΥΠΠΟΤ/ΓΔΑΠΚ/ΑΡΧ/A1/Φ42/97622/4260 of DG Antiquities & Cultural Heritage/Directorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities/Department of Archaeological Sites, Monuments and Archaeological Research “Approval of the request by the Municipality Prosotsani in the Prefecture of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, for the delegation of operation, exploitation and management of the cave Aggitis “Maaras”. Explanatory Memorandum on the Draft Law "Ratification of the Code of Municipalities and Communities". Joint Ministerial Decision Δ6Α 1162069 ΕΞ 2011 (Gov. Gazette Α’2779) "Merger of the “Hellenic Public Real-Estate Corporation S.A and Hellenic Tourist Properties S.A. with absorption of the former from the latter and transfer of competencies of the Hellenic Public Real-Estate Corporation S.A. to the General Secretariat of Public Property of the Ministry of Finance and to the School Buildings Organization S.A.”". Law 1126/1981 (Gov. Gazette Α’32) "On the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, signed in Paris on the 23rd November 1972".

International Journal of Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Law Law 1650/1986 (Gov. Gazette Α’160) "On the protection of the environment". Law 1850/1989 (Gov. Gazette Α’144) "Ratification of the European Charter of Local Self-Government". Law 2160/93 (Gov. Gazette Α’118) "Regulations on tourism and other provisions." Law 2636/1998 (Gov. Gazette Α’198) “Set up of companies for the organization of cultural events and the management of the GNTO’s property, creation of a National Tourism Council and amending tourism legislation". Law 2837/2000 (Gov. Gazette Α’178) "Regulations concerning Competition, Regulatory Authority for Energy, Tourism and other provisions". Law 3028/2002 (Gov. Gazette Α’153) "On the protection of Antiquities and, in general, of Cultural Heritage". Law 3270/2004 (Gov. Gazette Α’187) "Competencies of the Ministry of Tourism and tourism issues". Law 3463/2006 (Gov. Gazette Α’114) "Ratification of the Code of Municipalities and Communities". Law 3878/2010 (Gov. Gazette Α’161) "Regulation of issues of Ministry of Culture and Tourism." Law 3937/2011 (Gov. Gazette Α’60) "Conservation of biodiversity and other provisions". Law 3943/2011 (Gov. Gazette Α’66) "Fight tax evasion, staffing audit services and other provisions concerning the Ministry of Finance." Law 4002/2011 (Gov. Gazette Α’180) "Amending the state pension legislation - Regulations for development and fiscal consolidation - Issues of the Ministries of Finance, Culture and Tourism and Labour and Social Security". Ministerial Decision 34593/1108/1983 (Gov. Gazette B’398) "Protection of caves". Presidential Decree 4/2018 «Organization of the Ministry of Culture and Sports» (Gov. Gazette A’7). Presidential Decree 941/1977 (Gov. Gazette Α’320) "About the Organizational chart of the Ministry of Culture".

Contact Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies carlos.torres@eshte.pt www.tourismlaw.pt IJTTHL Celebrating five years of the first publication Vincenzo Franceschelli, On Tourism Law | Quest for general principles, https://fles.tourismlaw.pt/On-Tourism-Law-Quest-for-generalprinciples/ Alejandro Corral Sastre, A new Administrative Law for a new Tourism: now or never, https://fles.tourismlaw.pt/A-new-AdministrativeLaw-for-a-new-Tourism-by-Alejandro-Corral-Sastre-/ Jonas Thyberg, The Package Travel Act and the Covid19 pandemic, https://fles.tourismlaw.pt/The-Package-Travel-Act-and-the-Covid19pandemic-by-Jonas-Thyberg/ Caterina del Federico, The use of artifcial intelligence in the travel and hospitality industry. Civil liability profles, https://fles.tourismlaw.pt/The-use-of-artifcial-intelligence-in-the-travel-and-hospitalityindustry.--Civil-liability-profles "We are celebrating the 500 anniversary of the discovery of the Magellan strait with two online publications. On October 21, the launch of Derecho del Turismo en Las Américas brought together colleagues from all Latin American countries. On the same day, the Collective Commentary about the New Package Travel Directive, with colleagues from the then 28 Member States. More recently, Competition Law in Tourism and Tourism Law in Europe are publications demonstrating this group's dynamism. The pandemic has not broken the bonds that have united and unite us. Here we are again here in Lisbon, more numerous and more motivated than ever, to consecrate what will be the voice of our group: The new international journal of Tourism Law, The International Journal of Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Law.” • Vincenzo Franceschelli, The Lisbon Group and International Tourism Law Five years after the frst international publication (The New Package Travel Directive, October 2017) at the ESHTE | INATEL International Conference in October 2022, bringing together 50 speakers from 27 countries, a new project was announced: The International Journal of Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Law (IJTTHL). IJTTHL brings together several universities and is published both in print and online. The central part will be in English but will have an IberoAmerican chapter, and the texts are immediately available through Pre-Print. Monika Jurkova, Liability of online platforms in the tourism sector, https:// fles.tourismlaw.pt/Liability-of-online-platforms-in-tourism-sector-Monika-Jurkova/ Francesco Torchia, Tourism enterprise and cultural heritage protection, as a legal instrument for valorization of the territory and of the person, https:// fles.tourismlaw.pt/Tourism-Enterprise-and-Cultural-Heritage-protection,-as-a-legal-for-valorization-of-the-Territory-and-ofthe-Person-by-Francesco-Torchia/ Valérie Augros, Holiday lettings in France: tips and tricks, https://fles.tourismlaw.pt/ Holidays-lettings-in-France---Tips-and-tricks-by-V.-Augros/ Sarah Prager, Competition law: online travel agents and airlines, https:// fles.tourismlaw.pt/Sarah-Prager,--Competition-Law---OTAs-and-airlines/ Andrej Micovic, Legal Tech and Online Dispute Resolution, https://fles.tourismlaw.pt/ Microsoft-Word---A.-Micovic---Legal-Tech-and-ODR-in-Tourism./ Pilar Juana Garcia Saura, The inspection of tourist accommodation by Public Administrations: problems with the use of the robot inspector (web spider) and the responsibility of collaborative platforms, https://fles.tourismlaw.pt/Collaborativeplatforms-in-accommodation-by-Pilar-Saura/ Michael Wukoschitz, A Wicked Deed’s Curse – Will X v Kuoni change the Organiser’s Liability?, https://fles.tourismlaw.pt/Will-X-v-Kuoni-change-the-organisers-liability,---M.-Wukoschitz/ Bertold Bär-Bouyssiere, Sustainability and Article 101(1) TFEU, Exploring (almost) virgin territory, https://fles.tourismlaw.pt/Sustainability-considerations-and-Article-101-TFEU/ Tatjana Josipovic, Modernisation of information requirements for consumers on online tourism services market, https://fles.tourismlaw.pt/Modernisation-of--informationrequirements-for-consumers-on-online-tourism-services-market-by-Tatjana-Josipovic/ Matija Damjan, The new online platform rules and the accommodation booking services, https://fles.tourismlaw.pt/The-new-online-platform-rules-and-the-accommodation-bookingservices-by-Matija-Damjan/ Ilie Dumitru, EU legislation and contractual relationship between the travel package organizer and the air carrier in case of charter fights. Liability for cancelled and delayed charter fights, https://fles.tourismlaw.pt/EU-legislation-and-contractualrelationship-between-the-travel-package-organizer-and-the-air-carrier-in-case-of-charter-fights.-Liability-for-cancelled-anddelayed-charter-fights-by-Ilie-Dumitru-IJTTHL-PRE-PRINT/ João Almeida Vidal, Arbitration and tourism: a feld to explore, https:// fles.tourismlaw.pt/Arbitration-and-tourism--a-feld-to-explore-by-Joao-Vidal/