LIFE

Aegean islet stars in online adventure reality show

STATHIS KOUSOUNIS

TAGS: Tourism

An online reality TV survival show is expected to start shooting in October and November for a second season this autumn on Alimia, an uninhabited islet off the southeastern Aegean island of Halki.

The production of the show, called “The Island,” is being handled by the Belgium-based travel agency Beyond Borders and, according to Halki Mayor Michalis Patros, represents a golden opportunity for some free publicity for the area’s attractions in key tourism markets such as Belgium, the Netherlands and France.

Two series of the reality show will be shot this year over the course of approximately 20 days, while the first season was shot in autumn last year. The aim for 2018 is to expand the duration of shooting, as there appears to be a spike in interest from European viewers to test their mettle in the survival show.

In preparation for this year’s shooting, the Municipality of Halki has set aside special units where the production crew can store its equipment. Alimia, aka Alimnia, whose administration comes under the Municipality of Halki, is expected to welcome 20 contestants who will be split into two groups and dropped at two different beach locations on the islet. The teams are given nothing but drinking water and a few food staples as they vie for a hearty meal on Halki in a series of physical and mental challenges.

Each contestant pays 1,295 euros to participate in the show, which doesn’t include airfare. The final winner who gets the most points from the challenges will be reimbursed the participation fee and travel expenses, as well as receiving 500 euros in cash. The runner-up will receive half the enrollment fee.

Alimia covers an area of 7.4 square kilometers and has been included in the European Union’s Natura 2000 network of protected areas. With two naturally sheltered bays at Aghios Georgios in the southwest and Emborio in the east, it is a popular destination for day-trippers from nearby islands, as it is known for its rich fishing waters, which are also clean and ideal for bathing, as well as its nature trails.

The village of Aghios Georgios was abandoned in the 1940s and was listed as a traditional settlement in 1978. It is also home to the Church of Aghios Minas, perched picturesquely on a small cape, and a barracks built during Italy’s occupation of the Dodecanese island cluster. The islet’s highest point (269 meters) boasts the ruins of a medieval castle built in 1475 by the Knights of Saint John from nearby Rhodes on top of an older fortress dated to Hellenistic times.

Alimnia’s popularity saw something of a surge last year thanks to the first season of “The Island,” which earned solid press attention in Belgium in particular.

Patros notes that beyond providing much-needed free publicity for the island, the show also contributes toward extending the tourism season. He adds that things are already looking up this year, as there has been increased interest in Halki and Alimnia from British, Russian, American, Italian, French, Belgian, Austrian and Turkish tourists.

Ample proof of the kind of interest such shows can generate is already being provided by the Greek version of “Survivor,” which was shot in the Dominican Republic and is currently being aired on Skai TV. According to Skyscanner, the Caribbean island entered the top 50 searched for destination among Greek travelers in January-April, soaring 18 places in the rankings of most popular destinations in that four-month period compared with the same period in 2016.

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