Chantel, founder and managing director of Natural Greece, was just interviewed by Nicole Kow of Trekksoft, a leading booking & payment software company. Read parts of the interesting interview below:
When I think of Greece, I think of Santorini with its pristine waters, Athens for its ancient Acropolis, and Meteora (because I interviewed them). However, little has been done to attract people to its abundant and diverse wildlife, and less has been done to conserve it. That is what’s special about Natural Greece. They offer incredible nature-based tours in Greece that introduce clients to all sorts of wildlife, while ensuring that the entire experience remains sustainable and eco-friendly. This week on Spotlight, I am delighted to interview Chantel Kyriakopoulou-Beuvink, founder of the tour company Natural Greece.
Chantel is no stranger to nature and conservation. She was born and raised in the Netherlands where she studied International Agricultural Trade, and Agricultural and Environmental Economics. She then became an EU-Regulation expert at the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Fisheries and later as a Consultant in Environmental Management in the Netherlands.
She moved to Greece in 2006. Before founding Natural Greece, she worked in nature conservation as a Coordinator Corporate Partnership for the Hellenic Ornithological Society/BirdLife Greece, and as a volunteer for WWF Hellas.
Can you tell me about your company and the tours you offer? Natural Greece offers unique nature-based tours and multi-day holidays in Greece, a country with very rich and varied biodiversity, and fabulous natural landscapes and seascapes. Our team of excellent local guides possess great conservation knowledge, communication skills and a deep passion for their home-land. Our trips include:
- Conservation Travel opportunities
- Marine Eco Adventures
- Walking holidays with an eco-focus
- Birdwatching holidays
- Bear tracking trips
- Botanical tours
- General wildlife tours
Our expanding client base includes both renowned specialist tour operators and travellers from all over the world. Apart from all this I am a knowledgeable private tour guide for the wider Athens area myself! I love the interaction with clients from all over the world and they in return get a local, unique perspective on Greece.
How do your tours differ from nature tours run by other companies? As a Greek-based tour operator, we can offer tours at a much better price compared to outbound tour operators. By booking with us directly, the traveller avoids the extra cost of intermediaries. Furthermore, our locally developed and operated trips guarantee that you will get to discover the “real” Greece through unique, authentic experiences.
Why have you decided to incorporate sustainable and eco-friendly approaches into your tours? In a country with so many tourists, it makes perfect sense to preserve the foundations: its culture, heritage, nature and the environment. And not just to exploit it. Besides, many travellers are willing to “give back” while living an enriched visit in return. We firmly believe in “tourism as a tool for nature conservation”. In fact, 10% of our profits are channelled to support various nature conservation efforts. This year, we are working with the wildlife charity CALLISTO that protect the bears and wolves of Greece, and the Hellenic Ornithological Society fighting the illegal hunting and trapping of birds.
Are you certified by The International Ecotourism Society? What was the process like to get certified? I am a professional member of The International Ecotourism Society, a global network of like-minded professionals and industry leaders making the world a better place, one eco-trip at a time. We are in the process of becoming a Travelife Partner too. The Travelife certification programme provides tour operators and travel agents with a certification standard in order to evaluate, prove and communicate their sustainability achievements.