Cultural heritage is one of the key elements of a region's identity and local culture can be an important asset in an effort to highlight and promote a region with the ultimate goal of sustainable development and prosperity of the local community.
Local festivals and celebrations contribute to reducing tensions, overcoming dividing lines, developing reciprocity and respect for diversity. They give participants the opportunity to create bonds of contact and communication, create a "sense of belonging", cross borders and dividing lines, fight social exclusion, are the right cohesive web for strong social cohesion. The role of local festivals and fests in the economic, social and cultural sustainability of communities has been highlighted in the international literature.
During the summer of 2020, all festivals and local celebrations throughout Greece were suspended due to the Covid pandemic 19.
The new coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) appeared and spread in Greece from February 26, 2020 onwards. After the confirmation of the first three cases in Greece, on February 27, 2020, all the carnival events in the country were canceled and on March 10, it was decided to close all the educational structures, all the levels of the country. On March 13, the service of cafes, bars, museums, shopping malls, sports facilities and restaurants will be suspended and on March 16, all shops will be closed, while it was decided to suspend all functions of every denomination and religion. On July 13 2020, it was decided to temporarily ban until July 31, the holding of festivals or other similar public open events of local or non-local character by private or non-private organizations. A new ministerial decision extends the ban from August 1 to August 31, 2020.
The present research aims to detect and record the views of representatives of cultural institutions and citizens of the island of Rhodes regarding the cancellation of all local celebrations and festivals in Greece due to the pandemic of Covid 19, as well as the consequences in the economic, social and cultural field in local communities.
It was a field research and the island of Rhodes in Greece was selected as a case study. It took place between October and November 2020, before the appearance of the second wave of the pandemic. Semi-structured interviews were conducted. The sample was consisted of 30 representatives of cultural institutions and 40 citizens - residents of the villages of the island of Rhodes.
The results show that the representatives of the cultural institutions and the inhabitants of the villages express their frustration, dissatisfaction and anger, but it seems that they perceive and understand the new state of affairs and adapt to the new conditions. They admit that the festivals are detrimental to the health of the community, but point out the lack of communication and the cohesion of the social fabric on the island of Rhodes since the cancellation of the festivals. Regarding the effects that result from the cancellation of the festivals, the "economic" ones play a dominant role and in particular in different social groups: producers, merchants, musicians, singers, etc.
Finally, they consider that serious consequences arise from the deprivation of the "amusement" of entertainment and collectivism with consequent psychological problems.
The results of the research are considered important and satisfactory, as they demonstrated the need for preservation and sustainable development of festivals and folk festivals, highlighting their contribution to the economic, social and cultural development of local communities.