Kavala, the capital and main port of the Kavala prefecture is amphitheatrically built on the slopes of Mt. Symvolo forming one of the most picturesque cities in Greece. The city’s breeze sweeps through its historic buildings, which perfectly reflect the city’s modern character. The most important sights in Panayia district are the Castle, the Acropolis, the Imaret and the old Lighthouse at the end of Theodorou Pavlidou str, beneath which the rocks of Panayia are situated. The landmark of the Old City is the Mohamed Ali square, dominated by its statue, situated between the “konaki” (his house built at the end of the 18th century) and the church of Panayia, built in 1965 on the ruins of an older post-Byzantine three-aisled basilica. Kavala boasts a unique character reflecting its recent past: neoclassical mansions and big tobacco warehouses evoke the memory of a distant past when a wealthy bourgeoisie was dominating the city. Kavala is easily accessible, since it combines airport and port and additionally it can easily be accessed by “Egnatia” highway. The city’s goal is to maintain and enhance its tourism and become a main touristic destination for tourists of Eastern Europe.
Reflection on the tourism in the pilot
The types of tourists that visit the city of Kavala, pilot city of URBANWASTE, includes business tourists, transit tourist, friends & family tourists, weekend tourists, as well as cultural tourists. The tourism of Kavala is seasonal, limited in the summer period. The city is in close proximity and very well connected via ferries and with the Thasos Island, which is a highly attractive touristic destination of the Region of East Macedonia and Thrace, and it is also connected with Limnos Island. Tourism contributes significantly to the income of the local population. The available activities for the tourists include sightseeing of sights such as the Acropolis and the Caste of Kavala, as well as the Imaret, an impressive building erected by Mehmet Ali as a donation to its native town. In addition, Kavala is considered, as the “Mecca of tobacco”, since tobacco cultivation, which started at the beginning of the 19th century, was the reason for the city to become wealthy and prosperous. This important period for Kavala is depicted in the city’s tobacco museum, a highly attractive sight. Local beaches of the city are also considered as a qualitative touristic activity that enhances the touristic product of Kavala. Last but not least, the city of Kavala is currently encountering an increase in cultural heritage tourism as a result of the recent inscription of the Archaeological Site of Philippi to the UNESCO Word Heritage List that will definitely affect the waste generation and management.
Current waste management practices
The current waste management practices implemented in the city of Kavala include only recycling of paper, glass, metal (steel and aluminum packages) and plastic at source. The authority in mixed waste bins collects all other waste streams. The local authority in cooperation with DIAAMATH S.A. operates a waste landfill. The recycled waste streams are collected by the local authority and are transferred to the center of separation in Xanthi. Several pilot actions have been implemented for the separate collection of glass, the separate collection of the biodegradable wastes and the improvement of recycling. In the view of the recently approved Regional Solid Waste Management Plan, the local authority will gradually shift the waste management practices to the one stated in the Waste Management Plan that mainly include the development of a central Waste Treatment Plant, an anaerobic digestion unit, a composting unit, as well as Recycling Centers (“Green Spots”). Kavala and in particular the local authority face an important challenge due to the seasonal tourism that originates from the insufficient personnel of the waste management department. The increased waste generation during the summer periods results in significant management issues that the local authority has to tackle. The cooperation with local tour operators and tourism service providers can be considered as adequate, however, there is need for improved waste management strategy that will arise from a bottom-up approach in order to engage all relevant stakeholders, as well as tourists.
Impact of tourism on waste management
Tourism and mainly transit tourist due to the port of Kavala and its connection to the Greek Islands impact the local infrastructure and economy with increased traffic, water usage, as well as consumption of food and energy. The number of tourists that visit Kavala each summer period is more than the total population of the city, which results in increased consumption of food, water and energy, accompanied with increased waste generation during the summer months. Undoubtedly, the touristic activity in Kavala supports the local economy and particularly the local SMEs of the touristic sector. Simultaneously, the touristic activity distresses the local infrastructure.
The simplicity of the current waste management practices (mainly two types of waste bins) helps the tourists to easily adapt and respect the existing practices. The shift to the new waste management plan that has already started is expected to potentially confuse the tourists.
The city of Kavala expects from URBAN-WASTE the development of waste prevention and management strategies that incorporate the local characteristics of the touristic activity (seasonal tourism) in order to support the efforts made by the local authority, highlight the economic benefits and reduce the environmental impact.