George (Yiorgos) Hadjidakis was born in Athens in 1961. His family comes from Vamos. He studied Mathematics at Athens University and since 1988 has lived and worked in Vamos. He taught Mathematics for many years to high school pupils. In 1995 along with some friends who all also come from Vamos, he founded the Vamos S.A. Company, to pioneer alternative tourism, setting at the same time a very good example of how the old part of the village could and should be renovated, by keeping the local architecture and providing opportunities for sustainable development. He started to focus more and more on that particular project, managing the tourist office of the company, which today belongs to him. He is working without compromise in the field of alternative tourism, organizing walking tours in Apokoronas in to show off the natural as well as the historical features of the area, cooking lessons which focus on local cuisine and nutrition, visits to wineries, local cheese makers, olive mills etc, presenting the many opportunities that the visitor to Crete has today. From time to time he is invited as lecturer to several congresses about alternative tourism and sustainable development because of his long experience in these subjects. He is also the President of the Cultural Society of Vamos, which is highly active and important to the village. He has three children. He speaks and writes Greek, English and German.
After studying Economics at the University of Athens in the “Marketing and Management” department, Elena worked for 4 years in the multinational company “Mars”. “I enjoyed the busy, cultural city of Athens and learned a lot working for an American multinational company like “Mars”. However, I realized that living in the big city and working in the multinational company didn’t suit me, and I discovered the islands of the Cyclades and the tourism industry. I worked as assistant manager in various large and small hotels on Amorgos, Paros and Santorini. It was a great experience to work and live in a small island and moreover to work in tourism. I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with tourists from all over the world with different cultures and interests, and doing work that needed lots of enthusiasm which suited my character. I wanted to improve my knowledge of tourism, so in the winter season, I took a Master’s degree in Sustainability of Tourism at Lancaster University, UK.
During my Masters I learned a lot about the tourism industry: mass tourism, alternative tourism, sustainable development, eco-tourism and community based tourism. While writing my dissertation and some case studies about sustainable tourism in Greece, I discovered the Vamos project. In 2005 I came to live in this beautiful village and work in the tourist office of “Vamos Traditional Village”.
Having grown up in a Greek traditional village in south Albania, and studied management and sustainable tourism, I found the combination of tourism, tradition and community development something which I could really get my teeth into in my job as manager of the office.”
“When I was 16, a maths teacher (who for the last seven years I’ve been calling my boss!) told me about a project which he was involved in called Vamos S.A.
A bunch of people wanted to bring back to life a small village not far from Chania which, like most of the villages in Crete, was “dying” because the young people were deserting it. Their idea was to attract tourists to the village and give them a chance to experience life in traditional Cretan surroundings.
Being a person who is interested in nature myself, I was excited about the idea and thought that this is something I would like to be part of.
A few years later, in order to get my degree from the Technical Educational Institute of Crete Department of Tourism and Hotel Management, I had to take an apprenticeship for 6 months in a relevant business. During my studies, I had already seen how big hotels operate and I was sure that this was something that wouldn’t suit me.
I wanted to be close to nature and work in a business where people would be considered as guests rather than clients, with a more personal perspective, where people would be more relaxed and eager to exchange ideas and so… here I am! Since 2007, I’ve been part of “VamosTraditional Village” tourist office as an employee and part of Vamos society as an inhabitant.”
I graduated from the University of the Aegean in July 2013. Almost immediately I started looking for a job, sending cvs everywhere. One day I saw a very interesting add in the newspaper from something that seemed to be a very remarkable initiative in the agrotourism and alternative tourism.
Even though I live in the area I didn't know that in Vamos there is a so well organized office and so many wonderful, renovated buildings used as guest houses for visitors who want to meet the peaceful and authentic side of our island! I sent an application and soon Elena called me for an interview. I got impressed by the simplicity and the receptivity of the environment and the people in it. I have always loved our tradition and anything from older times fascinates me.
So I feel really lucky that I was given the chance to work for a business that respects the history of the area and of course the guests that choose to spend their vacation here.