Athens has potential to emerge as a top health and wellness tourism destination in the post-Covid-19 era thanks to its unique climate, modern infrastructure, exceptional health and tourism professionals, and the high-quality services they offer, Melina Daskalaki, president of the Athens Development & Destinations Management Agency (EATA) said during a workshop on Thursday.
Titled “Health and wellness tourism: the development prospects of Athens”, the workshop was held online by the Asklepieia Health Cluster, with the participation of Greek health and tourism experts. The Asklepieia Health Cluster is a large-scale cooperative network that focuses on health and wellness tourism.
During the event, EATA’s president referred to the value of the global wellness tourism sector that – prior to the pandemic – had reached 3 trillion euros.
“The market’s development prospects after the pandemic will be even more significant,” Daskalaki noted.
“This is a very big opportunity for Greece and Athens in particular. The city has the potential to become a top health and wellness destination, attract special interest tourists and increase average spending per person,” she added.
Prior to the pandemic, Athens received 6.5 million visitors on an annual basis. According to Asklepieia Health Cluster Managing Director Giorgos Kakoulidis, the city could tap into the benefits of year-round tourism by developing wellness packages inside and outside its hotels.
“Athens is a safe city showing high satisfaction rates among its visitors due to its hospitality infrastructure, as well as the culture and entertainment options it offers,” Kakoulidis explained.
Citing data from the “15th Survey on Guest Satisfaction and Hotel Performance in Attica 2019” of the Athens – Attica & Argosaronic Hotel Association, Kakoulidis said that the majority of Athens’ visitors – 96 percent – recommend the destination to other potential travelers, while 80 percent feel there are more things to discover in the city.
Tourism experts also agree that Athens ideally combines wellness and hospitality services. According to Divani Collection Hotels Marketing & PR Director Niki Fotiou, the city’s proximity to other European countries and the Middle East is considered an asset.
“Athens offers easy access to the sea and combines unique features including its culture and history, its mild climate and the popular Mediterranean diet,” she said during the workshop.
Meanwhile, according to a recent Booking.com survey, the preferences of global travelers are constantly evolving and today focus on nature activities, sports, spa, beauty and detox services.
“Thirty years ago discussion on wellness focused on physical health – fitness, heart diseases and smoking. Since then wellness has evolved and today includes mental and psychological health issues related to happiness, self-knowledge, healthy relationships and more,” Grand Hyatt Athens Director of Sales & Marketing Sofia Vaimakis said.
Tourism and health experts agree that this broader sense of wellness is starting to play an important role in the destination choices of travelers, while it contributes to a more integrated positive holiday experience.