Showcasing Loutraki through its traditions, products and gastronomy and enhancing the tourist experience through interactive happenings is the idea behind the “Taste of Loutraki” foodie event to take place next year.
Over the weekend, GTP Headlines was in Loutraki for a preview event of what’s in store next year. We drank wines, tasted olive oils, sampled sweets, and learned more about how local authorities plan to integrate local food traditions and products into the tourist experience.
Loutraki Mayor Giorgos Gkionis told GTP Headlines, that next year’s “Taste of Loutraki” comes at a time of great changes for the popular coastal town, which is just an hour’s drive from Athens.
“For the first time, we’re taking steps to include gastronomy and tradition as part of the Loutraki and Perachora tourist experience, adding that the event will create value added for Loutraki as a destination,” he says.
Organized by event planners Respond on Demand in collaboration with the Loutraki-Perachora-Agioi Theodoroi Municipality, the Loutraki Tourism Organization (Visit Loutraki), members of the Xenios Zeus Association, and local hoteliers, the day event gave participants a taste of next year’s gastronomy festival.
The promo event focused on showcasing traditional foods and locally produced products including the Corinth raisin, wines and extra virgin olive oil and how these can be incorporated into the overall tourist experience through interactive activities.
“We are aiming to get the word out that Loutraki is not only a great tourist destination, but also a place which can offer travelers a comprehensive gastronomic experience,” Giannis Kontis, president of the 110-member Xenios Zeus Association, told GTP Headlines.
“In Loutraki you can find everything from souvlaki to sushi. There is a wide spectrum of food choices available,” he says, adding that these include everything from the “simplest, favorite street foods to inspired cuisine with the finest local products”.
The Xenios Zeus Association represents Loutraki area F&B services providers, 30 of which participated in the weekend’s preview event. Kontis tells GTP Headlines that the goal is to see at least 40 local professionals participating in next year’s food happening.
“The ultimate goal is to upgrade the Loutraki tourism experience through food and at the same time to showcase our local products and gastronomy,” says Panagiotis Pitsakis, president of the Corinthia Region Chamber of Commerce.
The event, will be held over two days and include everything from wine and olive oil tasting sessions to food pairing and street food happenings.
“We’re hoping – given of course that Covid-19 allows – to launch the “Taste of Loutraki” at the beginning of the tourism season somewhere in June to attract more visitors to our city and region,” he said.
Contis’ vision? “To introduce travelers to the vast wealth of local products, to the city’s diverse gastronomic choices and to the quality work of local professionals. We want this to become an established yearly event,” he said.
During this year’s preview events, besides having the chance to learn from experts about olive oil and wines, we also had the opportunity to sample local products, traditional sweets and foods at participating shops with a discount.
The “Taste of Loutraki 2022” will also include food-related parallel events, immersive experiences as well as a map/guide of participating shops, patisseries and restaurants and the specialties they are known for.
“Food is undeniably an integral part of the tourist experience,” said Respond On Demand Founder Maria Athanasopoulou.
“It is the experience of food that connects a destination with a memory. It also helps attract more visitors to a destination, teach respect for local cuisines and cultures, and motivate stakeholders to improve services and skills in order to create added value for a destination that will give back to the community,” said Athanasopoulou, who is also chairwoman at the World Food Travel Association (WFTA) and ambassador at the World Gourmet Society (WGS).
“Food is our identity,” she says “and the idea is to bring more on board”.