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Peloponnesus: a unique example of unorthodox regional development: Can the gastronomic tradition show the right path?

Metaxas, Theodore and Karagiannis, Dimitris (2015): Peloponnesus: a unique example of unorthodox regional development: Can the gastronomic tradition show the right path?

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This paper examines the case of the Peloponnese region in southern Greece, as a characteristic example of unorthodox regional development. There are two main obstacles: First, the Peloponnese is divided administratively the wrong way in the Region of Western Greece – which also includes a prefecture of Central Greece, the Region of Peloponnese, while a third section in the east belongs to the Region of Attica. Second, the Peloponnese is treated as a peninsula instead of an "island" that even its name indicates. Its name derives from the first mythical king of the region, "Pelopas", plus the word "island" and it means "the island of king Pelopas". Peloponnese could easily benefit from all the economic advantages enjoyed by an island, due to successful marketing, and rapid tourism development that could achieve as a tourist destination while being characterized as "the largest island of Greece". At the same time, because of its unique geographical position, Peloponnese maintains the entire comparative advantages of a mainland, once before the creation of the Isthmus, it was a peninsula.

Thus, making the most out of this unique blend of advantages and characteristics, Peloponnese could be driven towards sustainable tourism development and economic prosperity. The entity of Peloponnese as an indivisible and integrated whole could be better demonstrated by other components, common throughout the entire region, such as the unique biodiversity, culture, gastronomy and history that the region shares for centuries. These are elements which characterize Peloponnese from one end to the other.

It is also worth noting that through history, all the civilizations that concord or lived in Peloponnese, despite the diversity of their origin and culture (eg. Franks, Byzantines, Turks, Greeks, etc.), never dared to divide Peloponnese, and managed it sufficiently by respecting its natural borders in order to achieve the best possible administration, while treating it as a single and homogeneous area. To the contrary, the practices of the Modern Greek state, have divided Peloponnesian administration, practically into three deferent regions the last three decades, with catastrophic results. So, other models of efficient administration should be studied in order to facilitate Peloponnese to return to sustainable growth. In particular, food & wine tradition in the Peloponnese, as a guide which unite the whole region, could indicate the proper way and a future model of regional development. Traditional products, such as wine, and olive oil “embrace" the whole Peloponnesian territory through the “Wine and Olive oil trails”. The traditional areas of wine and olive production and the great potential of food tourism show the unity of Peloponnese. The benefits of such a holistic administrative approach that faces Peloponnese as a single entity would be better highlighted through a comparison with another neighboring region, Sicily.

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