Tasos and Inga met eight years ago on a permaculture farm, at Lake Victoria in Kenya. After returning from Barcelona, they founded Local Μoods, a website that can arrange creative activities during your holidays in the Peloponnese. We spoke with Tasos about their life in Barcelona and why they decided to leave, how they came up with the Local Moods concept and why they chose the city of Kalamata as a base for this project. Also, he explains how tourism can benefit guests as well as the local community.
How did you come up with localmoods.com idea? What does it aim to achieve?
Local Moods was born when we returned to Greece after living abroad for more than a decade. We decided to leave Barcelona for various reasons, namely the uncontrolled mass tourism in the area. Rents skyrocket, traditional bars get replaced by trendy cafes and small shops have a hard time to compete against multinational companies. All these have caused a sense of discontent within the local community, which as you may have realized, expresses its dissatisfaction with riots, graffitti and discourse on a daily basis. There’s a powerful movement against the area’s mass tourism phenomenon going on.
While observing all these, we began to think ways through which tourism could be of a help to the local community as well as to the guests. So, we decided that in order for tourism to be a healthy kind of business, there should be a certain amount of interaction between the visitor and the locals, benefiting all parties involved (win-win situation).
When we moved to Kalamata, we noticed that there were enough activities offered by individuals and local businesses. However, there was a deficit in collaboration, management and digital presence. As a result, it would be difficult for a visitor to know all these activities on offer. This led us to launch the localmoods.com website. Through the website anyone can get information and book creative and eco-friendly activities throughout the Peloponnese. At the same time, we want to promote the work of local based artists, both Greeks and from other countries.
Have you worked in tourism before? What is your professional background?
No, none of us had directly worked in the tourism industry which was ultimately a big issue in our decision. However, in the end, our willingness for a better tourism service was stronger and we decided to do it.
I am Greek but I was living abroad from 2000 till 2015 (Spain/Scotland/Catalonia). Inga is German. We are a couple for eight years now. We met during a voluntary service at a permaculture farm on Rusinga Island, at Lake Victoria in Kenya. Since then we’ve lived together in Barcelona, me working with people with mental illnesses after finishing my Master degree in Art Therapy, and Inga studying Fine Arts in the University of Barcelona.
What is your relation with Peloponnese?
I was born in Thessaloniki, but I lived in Sparta since the age of five. Then, I studied in Athens and after graduation I decided to move abroad. When we decided to return to Greece, Peloponnese was amongst our first options but we were not sure of the exact place. We chose Kalamata because we believe that it offers a good quality of life and it has a potential for growth. Also, the area’s landscape combination of sea and mountains and the fact that it is approachable from land, air and the sea, was another important factor to our decision.
How did you chose the areas of Peloponnese as travel destinations?
The Peloponnese is a region that combines almost everything a visitor may want; beautiful landscape (both mountains and sea), culture, history, sightseeing, great gastronomy, endemic flora and fauna and many more. We believe it is a destination that has nothing to envy from other famous destinations in the world. Additionally, the fact that new highways and other infrastructure have been delivered to public helps as Peloponnese can be easily accessed by car from Athens.
One of our main goals is that the Peloponnese becomes a travel destination. At the same time we want to offer our knowledge to the authorities, the citizens and the visitors, providing what it needs in order for the area to become a sustainable destination that respects local communities, values and of course the nature and our environment. We know firsthand the devastating consequences of an uncontrolled increase of traffic and we want the area to attract new visitors without losing its authenticity.
How do you decide the activities on offer?
We are looking for people who are passionate about what they’re doing and want to share this passion and knowledge with others. This is the Local Moods’ key objective.
We categorize our activities into Creative Mood, which includes all creative activities, Active Mood, which refers to outdoor activities such as hiking and climbing and Eco Mood, a selection of activities involving our flora and fauna such as beekeeping or bird watching. If someone has an eco friendly activity to propose, we’d love to hear from them.
We are the first company offering Creative Tourism in the Peloponnese and therefore we are especially interested in expanding our network of creative professionals.
Which is your favourite activity?
As we are still in the early stages of the project we cannot yet say. I guess it’s a little bit of everything. You can start your day by paying a visit to the local market and deli shops where you will have the opportunity to attend a cooking class using local products or do some food tasting. In the afternoon you could continue your culinary experience by visiting a local winery and get initiated by the owner to the secrets of the production process. Or you could attend a wood carving workshop and create a wooden object on your own with the guidance of an artisan. You can finish your day with a traditional dance class before going to a local feast with live music where you will have the opportunity to put your skills into action.
How does localmoods support the local community and promote environmental awareness?
First and foremost, this is a win-win situation benefiting both the locals and the visitors. Local artisans/artists can have an extra (or even main) income by doing what they love, keeping at the same time traditional crafts such as pottery and weaving alive. As the concept of Creative Tourism is new to most of Greeks, it’s through our work that we hope to raise an interest in these kinds of activities. We don’t focus just on guests from abroad, but from Greece as well.
To us, environmental awareness means to respect and admire the nature that surrounds us. Learning about nature and promoting eco awareness, it means to spend time in it, alone or accompanied by someone who will help you see beyond the obvious. By promoting activities such as bird watching, mushroom picking or beekeeping, we may as well inspire parents to try new activities with their children, and transmit this environmental friendly way of life from an early age.
Where were you this August?
Mostly in our work space in Kalamata, improving the website and working on our social media presence. At the same time, we are looking for new activities to enrich our list and we are about to travel around the Peloponnese in order to meet new business partners. As you can see by visiting localmoods.com we are still in the beginning of a grand journey. Day by day, we want to broaden the activities list and combine it with accommodation, catering and transport services. Also, we are currently working on the Greek, German and Spanish versions of the website, so that the content would be available in more languages. However, we managed to rest for two days; as they say “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!”