Refreshing Rhodes’ tourism product is key to entering the new era with success and maintaining that success, said Dodecanese Chamber President Ioannis Pappous in an interview to local paper Dimokratiki.gr.
Assessing the performance of Rhodes for the 2018 tourist season, Pappous said that the tourism product on offer was “tedious” and that it was time to focus on quality rather than on increasing the number of beds.
“We are operating with a marketing model that may be 20 years old – a time when perhaps more beds were indeed in need, but now we do not need more beds, there is a huge need for quality,” Pappous said, expressing his concern at the same time about the island’s capacity in terms of infrastructure and natural resources to withstand the traffic. A case in point, he said, was fear of a blackout due to the extreme power needs in the summer months.
Pappous went on to note that there may be impressively increasing visitor figures “benefitting wholesalers” but small local businesses, “those supporting the local community” are suffering.
“I think it’s time we re-designed the tourist product strategy to focus centrally and locally. The problem is that there is no diffusion of the economic benefits to the island’s community,” said Pappous.
“In recent years, we’ve seen record-breaking arrivals, but unfortunately, despite the very large number of beds, the island has attracted many low-income visitors who do not spend. When we had 150,000 beds on the island, the revenue was much greater,” he said, adding the Airbnb factor to the equation.
“So what would creating an additional 10,000, 20,000 or 30,000 beds lead to? Squeezing our island dry faster? In this way we are bound to exhaust residents, employees and resources with meager gains for the island.”
Pappous stressed the importance of a fresh strategy that will focus on quality instead of quantity, ensuring sustainable tourism development.
“In order for a destination to label itself high-end it must be able to provide high-quality sanitation services, order, well-kept sidewalks and parks, lighting that showcases the destination. We have a tremendous need for quality not only from the private initiative… focus must also be on efforts to upgrade the island’s overall image,” Pappous said.