With tourism and hospitality currently being the strongest sector in Greece in terms of economic development, the country’s most popular region, that of the South Aegean Sea, has been named European Region of Gastronomy for 2019.

The Region of the South Aegean extends from the island of Makronisos (off the coast of Attica) to the island of Kastelorizo. It spans over 5.286 square kilometres and comprises 50 inhabited islands and a further 669 smaller islands and islets, inhabited by approximately 308.610 permanent residents according to the latest census.

This year-long project that aims to promote the area’s multifaceted culinary traditions to predominantly Europe and, of course, the rest of the world, comes as part of an initiative of The European Region of Gastronomy, organised by the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism (IGCAT).

The project is called ‘Taste the Seasons’ (TTS), it has 117 partners within the framework of the Gastronomic Region of Europe and it includes a series of the joint actions among the islands for the ongoing program that have a seasonal character.

“Regions play a key role in the gastronomic value chain, from agricultural food production to food processing, providing gastronomic experiences and hospitality in hotels and restaurants, and attracting visitors with regional gastronomy products.

“Our goal is to showcase and promote the gastronomic heritage of our islands worldwide,” Southern Aegean Regional Governor Giorgos Hadjimarkos said explaining that TTS has been traveling the world presenting traditional products, practices and recipes from the Cyclades and Dodecanese islands.

“This year is tne of great celebration for our islands. A celebration that includes and involves the entire community. Our aim is to highlight the local culinary identity of all the islands as it forms an integral part of their cultural heritage,” Mr Hatzimarkos continued, outlining the projects main goals.

Announcing US-based celebrity chef Argyro Barbarigou who hails from Paros as the project’s leading ambassador, the Governor said: “We aspire to establish the Southern Aegean Region as an international gastronomy tourism destination by highlighting the value and history of the Aegean cuisine as a healthy eating standard and at the same time increasing the number of certified local products; widen the use of local products across the tourism chain while educating consumers on how to request these at restaurants and where to purchase and consume local products; and motivate younger generations to choose traditional methods of land cultivation and agriculture.”

Watch the promo video for TTS below: