• Holding organisation: The Global Greeters Network (GGN)
  • Status: Not for Profit Umbrella Association
  • Model: Voluntary-basis.

Every new local destination developping a Greeter Community is structured in different ways. Greeters are volunteers and the experience is free of charge. In France: it is either organized through the setting of a new citizens association, through the initiative of the Tourism Office or piloted by the Departemental Tourism Council.

The idea

The Greeters Movement is based on participatory tourism. Participatory tourism is a new way to think and live travel that gains more and more visibility through the rise of social networks and the Internet. It is targeted to travellers interested in meeting local people. This tourism is double-sided, on one hand the visitor actively participates in the local life; on the other hand the inhabitant renews the touristic life and provides new local discovery features with possible revenue and development for the local community. The objective is to create encounters and exchanges between the host and the visitor for a mutual benefit.

The starting point

Founded in 1992 as the first "welcome visitor" program of its kind, Big Apple Greeter in New York City grew from friendly exchanges founder Lynn Brooks had with people she met. Lynn wanted the world to know New York City as she did: a great big small town with diverse neighbourhoods, mom-and-pop stores, fun places to dine, and friendly residents who go out of their way to help an out-of-towner feel welcome. The concept was a big success and has spread all over the world. As the number of programs grew, Global Greeter Network was formed as a voluntary association of independent welcoming programs. All the programs are free, offer greeter services as an individual or small group experience, and are characterized by enthusiastic, local residents who love their home city and volunteer to conduct these visits. SOURCE

How it works?

The Greeters Charter All Greeters and Greeter destinations share the same core values. (Also available on the Global Greeters Network website in French, Spanish and German).

1) Greeters are volunteers, a friendly face for those visiting a city/destination 2) Greeters welcome individuals and may serve small groups of up to six people 3) Meeting a Greeter is free of charge 4) Visitors are welcomed without any kind of discrimination. 5) Greeter programs support sustainable tourism. Programs respects natural and man-made environments, it brings both cultural and economical enrichment to the local communities. Programs aim for a lasting positive image of each destination. 6) Greeter programs create a mutually enriching opportunity for cultural exchange, create links between ordinary people in creating a better world.

The Network Greeters are spreading in different European cities and Regions. Local associations coordinate the greeters and the visitors. List of all existing communities

If you would like to start a Greeter movement within your city, you need to follow the different basic rules established by the Global Greeters Network: If you would like to become a greeter, the local association will set up a little interview (case in Belgium) for you to be a city volunteer. If you would like to visit a city with a greeter, you can make a request on the different local coordination platforms or contact them. You will then be able to match your interests with the volunteers’ profiles.

For instance in Belgium, the association “Tourisme autrement” has developed Brussels Greeters since 2010 and has now enlarged the network with 4 other Belgian partners’ cities

European Greeters communities in May 2013: Belgium (since 2010): Brussels/ Mons/ Verviers/Namur/ Charleroi Croatia: Zagreb France (since 2007): more than 50 Cities involved Aisne/ Hauts-de-Seine/ Côte d’Or/ Lyon/ Marseille/ Meurthe-et-Moselle/ Mulhouse/ Nancy/ Nantes/ Paris/ Boulogne/ Pas-de-Calais/ Rennes/ Selestat/ Tarn-Albi/ Tours/ Troyes Germany: Berlin/ Hamburg/ Munich/ Rhein Ahr Greece: Athens Russia: Moscow Spain: Madrid Switzerland: Zurich Republic of Serbia: Novi Sad

Added value of the project and making resources available

  • Win-win situation for both visitors and hosts:
  • Program free of charge elaborated by both the visitor and the greeter. As a Brussels Greeter points it out, there is no commercial goal behind the realtionship and it matters a lot: « These people don’t owe me anything but tourists give me a lot through experience sharing»
  • A genuine encounter and off the beaten path for mutual understanding.
  • A discovery of insolite or unknown spots
  • Local and environmental protection through the exclusive use of soft mobility (public transportation, by foot or by bike)

Other valuable projects The First Information Portal on Responsible tourism (French) with a dedicated category on “Participatory Tourism” « BeWelcome is a culture crossing network that lets you share a place to sleep, meet up and help others on their way. We are a non-profit organisation run by volunteers in an open, transparent and fair way. » First Worldwide Travel Community with possible free sleeping accommodations Backpacking co-created guides for the community Many Cooking and sharing meals platforms A global network that aims to help create memorable moments around the table

Sources and links

http://www.globalgreeternetwork In French: Complete review of the Greeters’ movement for their 20th anniversary