The three cities that star in City break tourism, after Athens and Thessaloniki
A key supplier of the economy and for all seasons of the year, city tourism ( city break ) emerges as a strong card for many destinations that invest in it, while it seems that our country has very few options.
Although it is usually limited to three or four days (from Friday to Monday), the city break is a form of tourism that gives a "breather" especially in the months when the tourist traffic in general is down, both from Greeks and from foreigners.
After Athens, which holds the city break scepter and Thessaloniki which follows but is very high in the preferences of visitors, the three cities that have a very developed city break tourism are Nafplio, Kalamata and Alexandroupoli, according to what he said speaking to the Athenian and Macedonian News Agency, Nikos Kelaiditis, president of the Association of Greek Tourist and Travel Agencies (HATTA).
"Greek cities have nothing to envy from those of other European countries and can attract even more tourists. Of course, Athens, despite the pandemic, has developed a lot in the last five years, I estimate that city break tourists must have increased by at least 50%, but it still has a lot of room to go much higher", says Mr. Kelaiditis.
"Thessaloniki has a lot of visitors from the Balkans (Serbia, Bulgaria, North Macedonia) but it also has many from Central European countries with which it is connected by direct flights. However, it is not making the most of its potential as it can certainly win a larger share of city break tourists,” he adds.
According to the president of HATTA , Nafplio has always been a destination for the weekend and is chosen mainly by Greeks but also by foreigners who visit our country.
Kalamata is also a city break destination for Greeks but also for foreigners from areas that have direct flights, especially in the summer months. "Alexandroupoli, on the other hand, has tourism throughout the year from both Greeks and foreigners because it is very close to Turkey and Bulgaria. Possibly of a slightly longer duration, but it can be registered as City break tourism, it also comes from Romania", notes Mr. Kelaiditis.
The cities that have the ability to become potential city break destinations are Ioannina, Volos and Sparta, as Mr. Kelaiditis estimates, pointing out however that Ioannina has already advanced quite a bit.
"A city can live from city break tourism if it has people all year round and especially in the months when there is low tourist traffic not only from abroad but also from Greece, i.e. from mid-November to mid-March. These are the months that have low tourist traffic with the exception of the holidays when tourism is mainly from Greece, and here I will say again with the exception of the regions of Macedonia and Thrace which also have foreign tourists due to road tourism. What is needed is promotion, in collaboration with the tourist offices of Greece and abroad, to highlight an integrated tourist product that will give many possibilities to the visitor and then, to make synergies and contacts with airlines", notes Mr. Kelaiditis.
Kalamata invests in tourism development
In recent years, Kalamata has developed a strong tourist dynamic. "In this direction, beyond what we do as a municipality, by organizing cultural and sporting events with pan-Hellenic and international reference, but also by supporting events that serve the needs of alternative tourism, an important role is played by the development of infrastructure, such as connecting the city with the capital in about 2 hours with a modern highway, the operation of the Kalamata International Airport "Captain Vassilis Konstantakopoulos" which connects Kalamata with destinations in Greece and abroad, the port and the city's marina", emphasizes Athanasios Vassilopoulos , mayor of Kalamata. "Kalamata is a city where the visitor, in addition to attractions and museums, can enjoy the local culinary wealth.
Alexandroupoli, the recipe for success
The equation of the success that Alexandroupolis has won the title of city break destination has many components, as noted by Apostolos Palakidis, president of the Hoteliers Union of Thrace: "On the one hand, Alexandroupolis is a city that can be easily accessed via Egnatia Odos and direct flights from Athens. It is a beautiful city with excellent gastronomy, architecture and good infrastructure. There are accommodations for all tastes and preferences. At the same time, the professionals of the area, who are directly and indirectly connected with tourism, are particularly outgoing and help to promote the city". But very basic, as Mr. Palakidis points out, "is that we have the undivided support of the local government. And the municipality, but especially the Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, does an important promotion project, it is a traveling companion of professionals, implements autonomous actions, has a strategic plan, runs and promotes tourism in general - as Alexandroupolis is a destination with many advantages (sea, nature, history, etc.) - but also the most special forms of tourism, namely the city break". According to the president of the Union of Hoteliers of Thrace, the city break visitors to Alexandroupolis have always been Greeks, while the foreigners are dominated by Turks, Bulgarians, and - especially in the summer - Serbians and Romanians. runs and promotes tourism in general - as Alexandroupoli is a destination with many advantages (sea, nature, history, etc.) - but also the most special forms of tourism, namely the city break". According to the president of the Union of Hoteliers of Thrace, the city break visitors to Alexandroupolis have always been Greeks, while the foreigners are dominated by Turks, Bulgarians, and - especially in the summer - Serbians and Romanians. runs and promotes tourism in general - as Alexandroupoli is a destination with many advantages (sea, nature, history, etc.) - but also the most special forms of tourism, namely the city break". According to the president of the Union of Hoteliers of Thrace, the city break visitors to Alexandroupolis have always been Greeks, while the foreigners are dominated by Turks, Bulgarians, and - especially in the summer - Serbians and Romanians.
Ioannina is vigorously claiming a place on the map of city break tourism
Ioannina is a growing tourist destination. As Giorgos Lolis, deputy mayor of Tourism, Entrepreneurship and Civil Protection points out, 2022 went better than any prediction. "The city has all those features that can satisfy even the most demanding visitor. It is a very beautiful city, with excellent infrastructure and accommodation, it is located a short distance from the mountain and the sea, and the visitor can go on various excursions", underlines the deputy mayor and notes that another element that makes the city stand out is " its multiculturalism, its monuments and the coexistence for many centuries of three cultures and religions, Christian, Muslim and Jewish".
Ioannina also stands out for its gastronomy and entertainment. The city also organizes many cultural events that give the tourist many options. As far as visitors are concerned, as Mr. Lolos points out, the majority are Greeks. "For city break tourism from abroad, they come more from Balkan countries, but we also have a lot of Cypriots who come either through Athens or through Thessaloniki", he adds.