Tourism professionals on the island of Evia, which saw 5,000 hectares of woodland and many of their enterprises go up in smoke in three days, have launched an online campaign aimed at raising awareness and garnering support to rebuild their future.
Using the hashtag #Support_Tourism_VoriaEvia, tourism stakeholders in Northern Evia are calling on tourists to continue visiting the island, the second largest in Greece, with suggestions and recommendations – through https://voriaevia.gr – in the area including beaches, spas and natural springs, monasteries and sites as well as a list of hotels and other forms of accommodation.
Expressing concern about the future of tourism in the northern part of the island, Evia Hoteliers Association President Miltiades Chelmis told state broadcaster ERT that the tourism period had been lost, stressing the need for an immediate action plan for the “reconstruction of the local tourism economy”.
Chelmis said all bookings for hotels and accommodation in the north of the island had been cancelled and tourism enterprises on the rest of the island had also been impacted by the fires that burned on the island for five days and tarnished its reputation.
Hoteliers speak of a massive blow to tourism claiming the tourism product was now lost and in particular, alternative forms of tourism which had been developed in the north due to its biodiversity, woodlands, and lush mountain regions.
Chelmis said the priority was now for tourism enterprises to receive funding that will enable them to rebuild as well as a ‘period of grace’ to pick up the pieces.
The head of the island’s hoteliers welcomed the measures announced but said he was expecting additional support, forecasting a considerable drop in turnover for tourism enterprises in the coming years.
In addition to the relief measures announced by the government, Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis has proposed an extra 1 million euros in financial support, the creation of a targeted marketing campaign for the island budgeted at 1.5 million euros, and the promotion of Evia at international tourism events via the Greek National Tourism Organization.
The tourism ministry has also tabled the idea of including Evia in its subsidized “Tourism for All” program in 2022 and the establishment of an Evia Vocational Education and Training Institute (IEK) in the Istiaia – Edipsos municipality offering a sponsored training programs open to tourism enterprises.