With dozens of villages in the mountains and on the seaside, the Kynouria Province in the eastern Peloponnese, has everything it needs to be a top choice for travelers seeking to discover a more genuine Greece.
Whether its sea sports and nature reserves to age-old traditions and an endangered dialect dating back to antiquity, the region can offer a vast choice of tourism options at value-for-money rates thanks to its large number of small and medium-sized accommodation facilities.
And yet, tourism stakeholders are only now beginning to come together to create a strategy that will take its destinations out of the 80s-90s tourism mentality and into the new era attracting more foreign travelers who will chose to stay longer and spend more.
“The idea is to bring together all stakeholders to create a unified concept and pricing policy that includes gastronomy, accommodation, experiences and travel,” says Viviane Manolesou, head of the Eastern Arcadia Hotels and Accommodation Association, adding that the end goal is to create by 2020 the Arcadia Riviera.
Located between the Argolis and Laconia, Kynouria – which consists of the North and South municipal units – is only now beginning to take its first steps towards attracting more travelers to the region. The bet is to bring together all tourism professionals and create unique products that make up the Arcadia experience.
With a hands-on approach, Manolesou presented earlier this month plans to put the dozens of small mountain and coastal villages on the tourist map, while at the same time creating experiences that will not only bring tourists back for more but will also promote local products creating revenue for the Arcadia communities.
There are currently 1,000 beds in the North Kynouria district, according to Manolesou, mostly 4-star, rooms-to-let or guest houses. Main source markets include China, Israel, Holland, Germany and Scandinavian countries.
Speaking to travel and tourism journalists during a fam trip organized by the Arcadia Chamber with the support of the Peloponnese Region earlier this month, Manolesou said she was already in talks with local hoteliers, restauranteurs, business owners and services providers towards developing combined products that will keep travelers in the region. Indicatively, in 2015 the Peloponnese accounted for 7 percent of all accommodation facilities in Greece, but only 3 percent of overnight stays.
Manolesou tells GTP Headlines that only through synergies and cooperation can the region come to the forefront and develop its latent tourism potential.
She admits that the hoteliers association had been inactive for several years and has only in the last year begun to take action.
Kynouria Tapping into Special Interest Tourism
Some of the activities the regional authorities are aiming to develop include hiking, nature treks, mushroom hunting, cycling, wine tasting, agrotourism, archery and crafts workshops, diving and fishing tourism, which have already begun to attract the attention of foreign tour operators.
Manolesou referred to three- or five-day special interest routes already gaining ground, including the popular “Life in the Village” tours, which include learning how to cook local dishes, archery, hiking in the mountains, fishing and trekking and visits to the Natura-certified and -protected Moustos Lagoon.
For the time being, the center of tourism activity is the coastal town of Paralio Astros, flanked by two large sandy beaches ideal for sea sports, sailing, kite and wind surfing, and families, and home to most of the accommodation facilities in the area.
On his part, the head of the South (Notia) Kynouria Accommodation Association, Anestis Vasiliadis referred to the increasing number of special interest tourists to the region attracted in large part by the Leonidio climbing park, which he said has extended the tourist season to eight months and secured 70 percent occupancy levels in the last two years.
Speaking mostly about Leonidio, known for its colorful Easter celebrations and summer Melijazz festival, Vasiliadis said there were currently some 1,200-1,500 beds in the area in mostly 1- or 2-key units.
He added that plans were underway to create a diving park in the seaside town of Tyros, a climbing festival and championship set for November, while other projects include extending the Menalon Trail – currently running through Mt Menalon – to Mt Parnonas, standing over Astros.
The Menalon Trail is the first footpath in Greece to receive European certification and be placed among the Leading Quality Trails — Best of Europe.