Milos belongs to the Greek island complex of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea, which started to rise out of the Aegean Sea some 2.7-1.8 million years ago. Volcanic activity continued for hundreds of thousands of years endowing Milos with a heritage of a broad range of minerals. Minerals have played a central role throughout the island’s history and they continue to play an important role today, as well. Apart from its mining activity, Milos’s local economy today is also based to a large extent on tourism. Estimated visitors are 80,000 per annum for an island of approx. 5,000 inhabitants. Services (incl. tourism) account for 55% of Milos’ domestic product, while manufacturing (most of it mining) stands for 40%, a major contributor to the local economy. Mining and tourism combined provide for a strong and steady economy, with literally no unemployment on the island. Local population is resident to the island around the year, since mining, unlike tourism, is not a seasonal activity.
There are extractive companies in Milos, with the largest activity by Imerys Industrial Mineral Greece S.A. (ex S&B Industrial Minerals SA), which has been present on the island since 1934. Currently, Imerys is the largest miner on the island employing almost 15% of the island’s total workforce. Since the very early years of its activity in Milos, Imerys has developed a social profile, engaging with the local community.
In 2011, a sharp decline in the number of tourists was noted, resulting from the on-set of the Greek crisis. Imerys, taking the next step in its Sustainability strategy, took on the challenge to create a branded product that would promote tourism, building on Milos’ comparative advantage: its unique geology. The project was initiated in the autumn of 2012 as an initiative of the Milos Mining Museum and sponsored by Imerys. Soon after, MILOTERRANEAN Geo Experience was born.
The name consists of the island’s name itself and a second component referring to earth (terranean>terra), but also to the Mediterranean Sea, which creates the original name of MILOTERRANEAN. MILOTERRANEAN offers 7 Geo Walks, 6 on the island of Milos and 1 on Kimolos, which belongs to the same island complex, that guide the visitor’s discovery of significant mine, archaeological and geological sites through a network of well-marked paths and roads. These Geo Walks are available through fold-out maps, but also on-line through the MILOTERRANEAN website
Geologists, mining engineers, foresters, cartographers and historians combined their expertise and insights, to interconnect geology, archaeology and the island’s dynamic mining activity in concise texts that accompany the mapped routes, and take the visitor on an unprecedented journey to this unique Cycladic scenery.
MILOTERRANEAN uses several tools to “promote” itself:
- hard copy maps with GPS precision (bilingual: english/greek)
- bilingual website (www.miloterranean.gr) with maps incorporated into Googlemaps background & concise texts on points of interest
- routes “signposting” in an environmentally friendly way
- promotional video
MILOTERRANEAN was first introduced to the Milos community at an official presentation event on November 2012. Following this, a training dedicated to Milos tourism professionals was organized in cooperation with the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (April 2013). The official national launch to media, tourism, the travel sector and the wider public took place on May 4, 2013 in Athens at an event called “Mine or yours?” and received a warm welcome by tourism industry professionals and very positive publicity by the travel & tourism media. Most notably, MILOTERRANEAN was placed under the Greek Ministry of Tourism auspices. Full “adoption” of MILOTERRANEAN by the Milos tourism professionals and local community towards growing their business is Imerys’ ultimate goal.