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Peloponnese Paves Way for Alternative Tourism with 1st ALTE Show

The 1st ALTE Peloponnese Tourism Exhibition is a fact aiming to serve as a reference point for alternative tourism offerings in the Peloponnese region by bringing together dozens of providers for the first time in the coastal town of Kalamata.

Guest speakers during the 1st ALTE Peloponnese Tourism Exhibition.

The two-day event held in the center of Kalamata last weekend was just the first step towards the presentation and promotion of what’s on offer in terms of outdoor, nature and special interest activities in all five Peloponnese regional units – namely Arcadia, Argolida, Corinthia, Laconia and Messinia – and 26 municipalities.

Organized jointly by local tourism associations with the support of the Peloponnese Region, local chambers, hoteliers and services providers, the event included workshops on marketing and social media promotion, cooking presentations and tasting happenings and a live music show.

View of Kalamata port, where visitors can rent sail boats.

Some 70 companies active in horseback riding, climbing, sailing, trekking and hiking, rafting, kite and wind surfing, mountain bike, go kart, paintball, boat rentals, leisure rentals, scuba diving, paragliding participated in the 1st ALTE Peloponnese Tourism Exhibition, which despite the rain attracted dozens of visitors.

“The aim of the 1st ALTE show was to initially bring all stakeholders together under one roof so to say. The Peloponnese has one very unique advantage, in less than 30 minutes from any of its points you can find sea or mountain destinations,” Nikos Kouris, responsible for ALTE communication and PR, tells GTP Headlines .

“Taking the first step is very important because the exhibition can serve as a reference point,” says Kouris, adding that future plans include “setting up clusters that will bring interested parties together with common goals and leverage”.

A glimpse of the Kalamata Riding Club offering lessons, seaside rides and training.

Local Communities Working Together

“We have been cooperating with the largest organization in Europe and one of the world’s largest, the World Tourism Forum of Lucerne (WTFL) to create a different tourist product … aiming to place the human factor at the heart of tourist development, said Peloponnese Region Governor Petros Tatoulis, speaking at the event.

Archive photo of Peloponnese Region Governor Petros Tatoulis at the WTFL Think Tank 2018 in Pylos.

Archive photo of Peloponnese Region Governor Petros Tatoulis at the WTFL Think Tank 2018 in Pylos.

The Peloponnese region came into the international spotlight last March, when the Costa Navarino in Pylos, hosted the WTFL Think Tank 2018.

During the event, Tatoulis referred to the region’s plans for three clusters. The first focuses on climbing tourism with the Leonidio climbing park at the center of activity. Tatoulis said there were plans underway for the creation of more climbing parks on the border of Laconia and Arcadia, and a second between Argolida and Arcadia.

Diving parks will go under the second cluster, which is set to take off after the first licensing, “opening up to a new European travel market of over 10 million people,” said Tatoulis.

Part of the Menalon Trail, Greece’s first officially certified footpath.

And the third cluster involves all trekking activities in the region with the Menalon Trail at the heart of the project. The Peloponnese Region, Tatoulis said, is funding the creation of the longest trail network in Europe, to stretch across the Peloponnese and reach 1,500km in the next two years.

“But the most important aspect of this activity is that it creates a new economic model on which several new business activities are being created as Social Cooperatives (Koinsep), offering young people the chance to focus and organize their own financial interests,” said Tatoulis.

New Sustainable Tourism Model

Menalon Trail founder Yiannis Lagos speaking about trekking and Vicky Karantzavelou presenting the bike-friendly hotels concept with ALTE organizer Nikos Kouris.

The Peloponnese is taking dynamic steps to establish itself as a leading tourist destination thanks in large part to the Kalamata Airportwhich more than quadrupled tourism to the region over the last eight years, the close proximity to Athens – Arcadia is a 1.5 hour drive – the quality facilities, and above all, the sheer diversity of its offerings across all its units. 

Yiannis Lagos, the man behind the successful Menalon Trail, tells GTP Headlines that work is currently in progress along the newly established Parnon and Sparta trails criss-crossing Mt Parnon.

Yiannis Lagos of the Menalon Trail.

Yiannis Lagos of the Menalon Trail.

“The most important part of the whole trail project, which is growing out of the Menalon Trail, is the fact that people are coming together, local communities are joining forces, volunteering to clear up and maintain village footpaths used in the past, to create sustainable attractions and at the same time new sources of income for a wide range of services providers,” Lagos explains.

Lagos adds that the combined trails, many of which will be up and running by early next year, will once completed (including licensing) be among the longest in Europe at 1,500km. Regional authorities, he said, have plans to seek certification for the entire Peloponnese as a trekking region.

The Menalon Trail is the first in Greece, to receive to receive European certification and be placed among the Leading Quality Trails – Best of Europe, which includes strict criteria and ratings/grading of infrastructure, landscape, cultural points of interest, accurate mapping and signage in order to guarantee a high-quality and safe walking experience.

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About the Author
Chicago-born and raised, Maria Paravantes has over two decades of journalistic experience covering tourism and travel, gastronomy, arts, music and culture, economy and finance, politics, health and social issues for international press and media. She has worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine, Time Out Athens, the Athens News, Odyssey Magazine and, among others. She has also served as Special Advisor to Greece’s minister of Foreign Affairs, and to the mayor of Athens on international press and media issues. Maria is currently a reporter, content and features writer for GTP Headlines.

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