By Maria Paravantes
For some Greek islands, mass tourism is their life source, but for the isle of Poros, in the Saronic Gulf, just an hour away from Athens, it’s not a factor at play.
The fact that the island has shied away from mass tourism has helped it retain its peace and quiet, attracting a different style of tourist, one who seeks a more refined experience that combines culture with short and simple getaways to the near Peloponnese, and all this amid neoclassical architecture, lush forests and aquamarine waters. And this is where the island’s latest promotional strategy focuses, Destination Manager Dimitris Prokopiou told the GTP during the World Travel Market (WTM) in London earlier this week.
“Poros has never had nor sought mass tourism, primarily due to the fact that we don’t offer all-inclusive packages,” Mr Prokopiou, who works on behalf of the Poros Municipality, explains.
“The island is not too cheap nor too expensive, we have many small- and medium-sized units offering warm hospitality, its not too far from Athens but either is it too distant, it’s accessible by car but we have no airport nearby so the travelers who visit Poros come here seeking a serene holiday that combines nearby excursions with fine food and a wide array of cultural offerings, including the now established Poros Art Festival held in summer.”
Mr Prokopiou adds that Poros is also a leading destination for sailing lovers, offering infrastructure, facilities and friendly waters.
Aiming to get the word about Poros out, the municipal authority has set aside a budget for 2016 that will include a research project to be ready by Christmas, a promotional scheme via media and internet as well as participation in a number of world travel fairs.
Mr Prokopiou goes on to explain that many holidaymakers get to know the island initially through day cruises organized from Piraeus.
“Many of our visitors get a first taste of Poros while on a cruise and then come here a second time to holiday. This is more than welcome and it’s very good for trade but we also want to focus on boosting the accommodation sector of the island.”
Main markets include the UK, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Holland and Belgium.
Mr Prokopiou is optimistic about the future and expresses the tranquility that goes hand in hand with the knowledge that if your product offers quality it will in turn attract quality.
In the words of American writer Henry Miller: “Coming into Poros gives the illusion of the deep dream. Suddenly the land converges on all sides and the boat is squeezed into a narrow strait from which there is no egress.”