Tourism professionals at one of Greece’s most famous spa towns, the seaside Loutraki, are aiming to attract more tourists who stay longer and spend more by upgrading accommodation and introducing new experiences.
Earlier this month, GTP Headlines was in Loutraki for the annual “Taste of Loutraki – The Corinthian Food Festival”, a three-day foodie event which offered visitors and locals the chance to sample local cuisine while introducing media and travel agents to gastronomy experiences in the region.
The “Taste of Loutraki” event, an initiative of the 110-member Xenios Zeus restauranteur association headed by Giannis Kontis, was a first step aimed at attracting travelers to the area seeking something more than just sea & sun. Now local stakeholders are actively taking actions to rebrand Loutraki as a prime destination in its own right.
“Our main goal is to introduce travelers to alternative tourism options in the area. The ‘Taste of Loutraki’ was one such action,” Spiros Karavoulis, President of the Loutraki Tourism Organization (LTO) told GTPHeadines.
Karavoulis, who is also president of Sportcamp Group, which specializes in sports camps, programs and events, travel services and venue management, said that the wider Loutraki area had seen a significant increase in arrivals after the pandemic subsided.
“The goal now is to tap into local resources which include Loutraki’s thermal springs, its casino and considerable potential for conference tourism to further boost arrivals and revenues and at the same time extend the tourist season,” said Karavoulis.
Key to this, he said, is moving ahead with infrastructure upgrades at other lesser-known destinations in the area such as the Hraio and Lake Vouliagmeni, the dormant Sousaki Volcano, the mountain village of Pisia, and Schinos with its beaches.
Loutraki – Corinthia taps into local experiences
In its 12th year, the LTO (known as Visit Loutraki) has more than 350 members who are involved in tourism. The organization is responsible for the region’s tourism policy and promotion activities. In addition to being active online through its website and on social media, the LTO participates in international tourism events and also runs the Isthmus Tourist Info Kiosk near the Corinth Canal, where tourists can get all the information they need for their holidays in the area.
In the last few years, Loutraki, which is about an hour’s drive from Athens, has seen a hotel boom. Large international hospitality brands are setting up shop in or near Loutraki. Brown recently opened the DAVE by the beach Loutraki and the Isla Brown in the seaside town of Agioi Theodoroi, and the Comer Group operates the Club Hotel Casino Loutraki and Wyndham Loutraki Poseidon Resort and is set to revamp several more hotels in the area.
In addition to that, Loutraki’s landmark water factory, which was the first to open in Greece in 1907, reopened run by Pepsi.
Hotel renovation boom driving tourism to Loutraki
“These investments in the wider Loutraki area are not only boosting arrivals but also indicative of its potential,” Loutraki – Perachora – Agioi Theodoroi Mayor Giorgos Gkionis told GTPHeadlines on the sidelines of the “Taste of Loutraki”.
At the same time, Gkionis said, “Loutraki hosts dozens of international sporting events which have given reason to several hotels to remain open all year round creating a new development prospect”.
Due to its popularity in the 60s, 70s and 80s, Loutraki has a very large number of hotels and beds. The renovation of older hotels by international hospitality groups is giving the area a breath of fresh air.
“We’re on the right track,” Corinthia Hotel Association President Sophia Philippidou told GTPHeadlines, adding that many more projects are ongoing or in the pipeline.
“Loutraki has managed after Covid to attract travelers as a day and weekend destination but the goal now is to extend the season and the number of overnight stays. To achieve this, we’ve decided to tap into other special interest options such as gastronomy through the ‘Taste of Loutraki’, olive mill visits and tastings, sports, and spa experiences,” said Philippidou, the 4th-generation owner of one of the city’s seafront hotels.
She goes on to add that “the all-inclusive model of tourism is now on the decline. People want experiences and hotels are working together with experiences providers to expand the tourism offering”.
Corinthia hoteliers, Philippidou tells GTPHeadlines, are aiming to keep more hotels open all year round. At the same time, one of the key priorities is to promote Loutraki’s thermal spring and spa infrastructure to senior travelers.
“The next step is to attract higher-spending travelers who will stay longer. The Corinthia region and Loutraki can now do that thanks to the upgraded tourism product on offer,” she said.
In terms of source markets, Philippidou said the market profile had changed in the last years with the loss of Russian tourists. The area attracts travelers from Germany, France, Finland, Israel and Belgium, and has seen an increase in Scandinavians (a traditional Loutraki market) and Americans.
Additionally, Karavoulis said Loutraki and the wider area attract lots of domestic tourism especially on the weekend or for day trips. Easter this year also gave the town a boost which was hampered however by the national elections in May and June.