International Journal of Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Law 2023

Exploring the Potential for Speleotourism Development in Greece Dimitrios Mylonopoulos1 1. Cave tourism / Speleotourism. 2. The speleological wealth of Greece. 3. The Research. 4. The institutional framework. 4.1. The role of the Central Government. 4.2. The role of Local Government. 4.3. The role of the Hellenic Public Properties Company. 5. Discussion.6. Conclusion. References “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 non- -exploitation. 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. DOI 1 University of West Attica, Greece. Department of Tourism Management.