("Kaparissos": la coopérative agrotouristique et d’artisanat des femmes d’Arachova)
08 / 1993
Arachova is a village of 3.531 inhabitants on Mount Parnassos, 960 metres above sea level and 165 kilometers from Athens. Along with Delphi, Itea and Galaxidi it represents one of the most interestingregions in Greece, offering a unique combination of sea, mountains, museums and places of historical interest. People are employed in stockbreeding, growing and processing olives, craftwork and tourism. Under Law 921 of 1979, a craft products and women’s tourism cooperative was set up in April 1985. It has a close connections with Ministry of Agriculture, since it is part of its Family Economy Programme.
Kiparissos is a unique example in the Boethia region. It is the result of two training courses of the Family Rural Economy Programme supported by the E.C. - 150 hours in May 1984 and 30 hours in February 1985. They have been followed by regular training courses aimed at increasing women’s participation in the region’s economic activities which are based on winter tourism and handmade carpets.
Originally the cooperative had 15 members. Today there are 28. They are active in three main sectors:
1. Hosting tourists in private guestrooms. These are located both in the village and in the countryside. The cooperative has 51 rooms (2 singles, 34 doubles and 15 triples)and can host 115 people;
2. Processing, selling and distributing traditional local food products such as olives, sweets etc.;
3. Organizing courses for tourists on local cooking and embroidering.
All these activities contribute to better tourism and environmental protection in the region and to improve women’s status in the village. Renting rooms has proved a successful activity and profit are now around 12.000.000 D (initially the average was 6.500.000), while carpets provide another 500.000 D. The conditions of rooms have been improved year after year.
The cooperative has brought financial benefits to all members and their families; young unemployed women have the possibility of working; other families (outside the cooperative)also had the opportunity of renting rooms; contacts have been established with other projects in E.C. countries such as France and Ireland through participation in international seminars; Arachova is now twinnwed with the town of St. Quentin in the North of France where there is a similar agrotourism activity; the work has greatly improved the social position of women and their attitude towards social and economic life.
The most serious problems are due to the lack of capital that prevents proper advertising. Running the cooperative involved fairly high costs given the present economic situation. A solution could be to try to extend the tourist period to summer. It is more difficult to improve the carpet sector since traditional weaving and colour techniques are costly and difficult to promote on the Greek market.
Translated by Alessio Surian. As IRED consultant Christina Petropoulou visited the above mentioned cooperative in June 1993
PETROPOULOU, Christina, IRED NORD, 1993
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