GLAMPING – Luxury camping in Greece

Recently, a public consultation was completed, concerning the draft law of the Ministry of Tourism “Development of diving tourism, regulations on development and pools in tourist accommodations, the glamping certification seal and other provisions”. Reasonably, the reader’s attention is captured by the rather unfamiliar term “glamping”.

What is glamping?

“Glamorous camping” barely has anything in common with the ordinary tourist camping experience. Glamping offers accommodation in structures with unique architecture and high aesthetic facilities, in total harmony with the surrounding area, such us tree houses in the heart of forests, igloos in cold Icelandic landscapes and Indian tents in the heart of desserts. On the contrary, the interior of the accommodations is equipped with all kinds of modern conveniences that we find in four or five-star hotels. Finally, anybody who may choose glamping for their vacation has the chance to experience nature through the respective outdoor activities.

Glamping and tourism

The idea of escaping to exotic destinations without being deprived of the comforts of luxurious living is not completely new. In fact, it was a custom of European rulers especially during the years of the colonial period. However, since the beginning of the 21st century, glamping turned into a new form of tourism attracting more and more people, first in America and Asia and later in Europe. Both the rise of ecotourism as well as the increasing human need to come closer to nature while also enjoying comforts contributed to the growth of glamping.  It is worth noting that the value of glamping in the USA in 2018 was estimated at $2,07 billion, and is expected to reach $4,06 billion until 2026.

The Greek draft  law

Within this framework and given that luxury camping sites are also starting to make their appearance in Greece, this new tourism form is recognized for the first time in Greece and attempts are made to form relevant regulations in the 4th part of the draft law “Development of diving tourism, regulations on development and pools in tourist accommodations, the glamping certification seal and other provisions”.  

To start with, the draft law defines glamping as “the experience of a luxury stay in nature, in tourist accommodation sites in the countryside which are built in areas outside municipal building plans and include variable accommodation types in total harmony with the natural environment, combining high aesthetics and upgraded services” and sets forth the establishment of the glamping certification seal. Any hotel and camping site rated with at least three stars and which fulfills some quality standards has the right to obtain this certification seal.

Specifically, the above businesses must provide accommodation in fully equipped camping sites of high quality or semi-permanent structures of high aesthetics in shells of unique architectural design. These can vary in type or size and should be able to be assembled and disassembled or transferred. Moreover, the structures must be built in harmony with the natural environment with the minimum possible intervention and by using environmentally friendly materials for all structures. Finally, apart from providing the above-mentioned services, all businesses ought to promote activities of thematic tourism – special types of tourism, as these are described in law 4582/2018.

The Glamping Certification Seal will have a specific logo, it will be granted only by the Ministry of Tourism upon the respective application, it will be valid for five years and will be renewable. Before granting a glamping certification seal, accredited bodies of Greek Hotel Chambers control that the quality standards are fulfilled and draft an inspection report.  The application for a glamping certification seal, addressed to the Ministry of Tourism, should be submitted together with the above-mentioned report, a special architectural design plan, details regarding the materials and the environmental and financial impact of the structure, as well as  a fee of 100€. Finally, the draft law provides for cases of seal withdrawal and application of sanctions.

What’s the future of glamping in our country?

At times strong criticism has been expressed for not exploiting our country’s enormous natural wealth. Indeed, scenery of unique beauty can be seen in Greece, unknown not only to foreign but also Greek visitors. Such landscapes could become highly sought-after glamping destinations and could strengthen the tourism sector and the national economy in general. What is due is to follow the progress of the relevant legislation hoping that any provision published will be taking into consideration the protection of both the environment as well as the interests of Greek touristic businesses.