Aiming to increase tourism to Santorini during off-peak summer months, Thera Mayor Anastasios-Nikolaos Zorzos on Tuesday presented a new ambitious initiative to establish the Cycladic island as an all year round tourism destination.
“Santorini may already be acknowledged internationally but we will not rest on our laurels as we are aiming for the island to always be on the top of the traveler’s mind “, Mayor Zorzos said while presenting the initiative at the Acropolis Museum.
The initiative “Santorini: Year-round Destination” is a collaborative effort between the Municipality of Thera and the island’s enterprises and sees to attract visitors during the off-season through a series of actions that include the promotion of alternative forms of tourism.
“Santorini’s tourism model is not based on ‘sun and sea’ but on ancient treasures, geology, traditional architecture and gastronomy — features that are guaranteed to attract visitors throughout the year”, he said.
The mayor added that the initiative will be supported by scheduled transport services during the winter (up to five daily flights from Athens and daily ferry services from Piraeus).
Another very important factor is that many of the island’s hoteliers have agreed to remain open throughout the year which has led to satellite services following suit. This winter alone some 100 hotels on the island will operate as well as a number of restaurants and shops.
“The initiative will begin in 2016 — 150 years since the explosion that attracted global interest and formed the Santorini we all know today”, Mayor Zorzos said.
According to the mayor, a series of actions will gradually take place to support the new initiative including the introduction of new products and activities for visitors during the off season months and the launch of promotional campaigns through major channels such as National Geographic.
Also, based on an agreement between the Thera Munipality and the South Aegean Region, Santorini will participate alongside the region in all major international tourism exhibitions.
“From 2016, we will place Santorini where she deserves to be positioned: on the top, as a queen”, South Aegean Prefect George Hadjimarkos said during the presentation of the initiative.
Mr. Hadjimarkos said that he strongly believes that the initiative of Mayor Zorzos is sure to be a success and Santorini will in fact welcome tourists on a 12-month basis.
“This will serve national goals that include extending the tourism season in general and upgrading the tourism product”, he said.
On her part, Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura applauded the initiative and underlined that all year round tourism is a “complete product” that ensures the ongoing operation of businesses, helps reduce seasonal unemployment and increases revenue and job positions.
During her speech, she listed the main objectives of the government’s tourism policy and said that the main target is to extend the season.
Ms Kountoura added that 12-month tourism attracts quality level tourists, triggers investment interest and leads to the upgrading of tourism infrastructure while it also improves the level and quality of life of residents.
“Our ministry supports every effort that creates benefits for Greek tourism and the Greek society and any action that highlights the uniqueness of Greece”, she said.
“I am sure also that Santorini will be an example and encourage other destinations to invest in 12-month tourism.”
The “Santorini: Year-round Destination” initiative will officially launch during Greece’s next tourism season of 2016-2017.