Learning about alternative tourism
by Steven Tagle, Content Creator, New Agriculture for a New Generation

Meet Thomas

Thomas Karagiorgos was born in Veroia and lives in Thessaloniki. He completed his PhD in the field of Sports, Tourism and Recreation Management, in the School of Physical Education and Sport Science at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He organizes sports and adventure programs, works as a researcher in academic research projects, and currently teaches in the Alternative Tourism program at the American Farm School (AFS), which is part of the Stavros Niarchos-funded “New Agriculture for a New Generation” (NANG) program.

“As a child, I was involved in alpine skiing,” Thomas said. “I started skiing when I was five years old. My father loves to hike and be active. He encouraged me to participate in a lot of sports and was a good role model for me. Because of him, I’m passionate about outdoor sports, and I love hiking, alpine skiing, and canyoning all around Greece.”

When I asked Thomas about his favorite places in Greece for mountain activities, he said, “Pelion is my favorite. I think it has a lot of potential, and it is a nice place to relax, far from civilization. I also love Mount Olympus and Zagorohoria.”

In 2015 and 2017, Thomas participated in Piera Creta, an outstanding ski mountaineering event on Mount Psiloritis in central Crete. “This is a very unique experience that combines sea and mountain at the same time,” he said. “It was a recreational opportunity for me, and the event committee welcomes its participants with the special hospitality of Crete!”

Thomas’s passion for outdoor activities and his academic interest in sports science, marketing, and alternative tourism complement one another. He had worked as an organizer of outdoor activities for many companies. He has also managed a children’s summer camp in Pefkochori, Halkidiki. Having worked in this field for 11 years, he has befriended many others in the space. “It’s a small world,” he said. “I know a lot of people, and we travel together, exchange opinions, share job opportunities.” Since 2018, he has worked as a researcher in the Sports, Tourism and Recreation Management lab based at Aristotle University and coordinated by Dr. Alexandris. Their current project is called ‘Run For Health’ and is about the contribution of running events to the welfare of the local community. These projects offer many opportunities to cooperate with European academics and professionals in the same field.

Becoming a Teacher

Thomas received a BA in Sports Science from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. His specialization was in outdoor activities. He holds two master’s degrees, the first in Tourism and Recreation from the University of Thrace in Komotini, and the second in Business Administration from the Economics Department of Aristotle University. When his supervisor asked him to give two lectures in his course, Thomas realized that he liked teaching. Teaching in the classroom was a natural extension of his experiences as a camp manager and outdoor activities organizer.

Now Thomas teaches three adult courses at the American Farm School: Outdoor Activities and Recreation, Coastal and Maritime Tourism, and Marketing in Alternative Tourism. “The American Farm School has one of the most efficient programs in Greece,” Thomas said. “The classes combine practice and theory, and I often invite people from the working world to visit my classes.” After participating in NANG’s “Train the Trainers” weekend in Elatochori, he told me that he especially liked the psychological training modules because they gave him tools to reflect on his teaching in the classroom.

Thomas hopes to continue researching outdoor activities so that he can help recreation companies in Greece offer high quality sports services. “The businesses in Greece have a lot of potential,” he said. “I’d like to contribute and inform the owners and staff about international standards and best practices in the sports tourism field, and help them make better use of analytics and data. And most importantly, I want to help people understand how outdoor sports can improve their quality of life.”