“On Chios you are made to feel not only that you are welcome and not only that you are a friend, but that you are family when you arrive and that is really special”, English historian, author, and broadcaster Bettany Hughes told an audience of tourism professionals and foreign journalists on Tuesday during the World Travel Market (WTM) London 2016.
Known for her love for Chios, Hughes was the special guest at a promotional event for the island held at the stand of the Greek National Tourism Organization. The historian spoke of Chios’ wonders — just as she personally experienced them — and informed that the island is ideal for all types of holidays, either peaceful or high-end.
Chios was among the Greek islands that were under major pressure due to the refugee crisis last year and saw its tourist arrivals plummet in 2016 due to the negative publicity.
“We asked Bettany for her help given the unfavorable tourist traffic on Chios this season due to the refugee crisis,” the chairman of the Chios Hoteliers Association, George Missetzis, told the Greek Travel pages (GTP).
With only two direct flights from abroad during the 2016 summer (compared to nine direct flights last year), Chios saw its arrivals from the European market drop by some 80 percent this year. Meanwhile, there are currently no scheduled direct flights planned for the 2017 summer season.
“We are hoping that the problem is ending and that we will have a better season next year, but unfortunately without direct flights from abroad”, Missetzis added.
Commenting on the negative publicity of Chios and the island’s hurt tourism appeal, Bettany Hughes said that the worst thing to do is to pretend that the problem is not happening.
“Chios is a beautiful place to visit, you will have a happy and safe holiday if you go there. But the idea that we either ignore the issue — the fact that there are refugees on the island — or that we turn our backs on both the island and refugees, it’s not just disrespectful, but we are letting ourselves down as humans if we do that. So I just say to everybody: Go to Chios, have a great time and also spare a thought both for the refugees and the island that is looking after them“, she said.
On a closing note, Hughes informed that she is currently involved in the making of a drama series based on the story of Troy, a project by the BBC. “We are recreating the Iliad and I’m advising on that… We are expecting much interest for Homer, in the story of those men and women who lived real lives in these beautiful landscapes. 2018 is definitely going to be a ‘Homeric’ year”, she said.
The Greek Travel Pages (GTP) is an official media partner of WTM London 2016.