Sunday April 20, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
17o C
11o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Putting themed tourism on the right track

Guided by Maria Polyzou, a group of Russian tourists enjoyed sharing a sports experience at the birthplace of the modern Olympic Games and the marathon, and promised to tell everyone back home about it.

By George Georgakopoulos

This country’s sports legacy makes the combination of culture and history with physical exercise an added attraction that Greece cannot afford to ignore.

Themed tourism offers benefits that mass tourism doesn’t, including high added value and repeat visitors. Greece has only recently started tapping this source through forms such as religious and conference tourism, but the idea of mixing holidays with sports is still in its infancy.

While rival destinations have developed programs welcoming individuals as well as teams to play, train or exercise – including professional clubs and athletes who are regulars in places such as Turkey, Spain and Portugal – Greece has not yet approached the idea in an organized fashion. Given the shortage of facilities, golf tourism is still in the early stages, while sailing may be an irresistible attraction but has a limited audience.

Olympic tourism, with visits to ancient and modern sites such as Olympia and Athens, could serve as a key attraction, as figures show that since the Panathenaic Stadium opened to the public with guided tours in 2010, it has been attracting about 100,000 visitors per year.

Last spring the Hellenic Olympic Academy made a modest attempt at bringing the history of the Games to life by organizing an event at the Panathenaic Stadium reviving the first Modern Games that took place at the site in 1896, but news of the event reached few tourists.

However, sports tourism is not just about seeing, it is about participating. The Hellenic Olympic Committee today provides for group tours to the Panathenaic Stadium to be optionally combined with some type of sports activity, through the arrangement of track or field competitions for visiting groups “so that visitors can feel the dynamic and powerful sporting pulse of this ancient stadium,” the Committee states.

That is something that should appeal to many visitors. A couple of months ago, one week before the 2013 Athens Classic Marathon, a group of Russian tourists aged between 40 and 70 wanted to enjoy the authentic experience of having a run at the birthplace of the Modern Olympics and a taste of what it might be like to do the marathon. Seeking a guide for the group, the agency that brought them to Athens contacted Maria Polyzou, the Greek recordholder in the marathon and the founder of Marathon Team Greece, which had over 1,000 runners in the 2013 Athens Marathon.

“Their tour operator contacted me. They knew my name from the Pheidippides feat I recorded in 2010 when I ran from Athens to Sparta and back in honor of the Battle of Marathon’s 2,500-year anniversary,” Polyzou told Kathimerini English Edition.

Apparently, the Russians were hoping to combine their visit to the Panathenaic Stadium with a run, and Polyzou happily took them to the nearby track of the Ethnikos Athens club.

“I originally thought the tourists just wanted us to meet, but they had much more in mind.

“They came in their track suits and trainers, complete with their first names printed on their tops, and ready to have a crack at running on an Athens track under my guidance,” said Polyzou.

“Their passion was delightfully unexpected and I encouraged them all to run 3 or even 5 kilometers on the track, some of them running that distance for the first time in their lives.

“They all crossed the finish line and loved it. They promised to tell everyone back home about it and return one day for more,” recounted Polyzou. “It seems to me that when we Greeks show visitors our best side, they are more than eager to enjoy themselves and fall in love with this country.”

ekathimerini.com , Friday Jan 17, 2014 (21:50)  
Eurobank share offering on April 25-29
PPC to issue corporate bond of 500 mln
Primary surplus continued by end-March
Eurobank eyes top Core Tier 1 level in Greece
Greek Christians mark rare Good Friday in north Cyprus
Hundreds of Greek Orthodox pilgrims, some coming home after 40 years of forced exile, commemorated the crucifixion of Jesus in a rare Good Friday service in northern Cyprus. Held in this med...
Greece offers to help find Turkish F-16 lost in 1996
Greece officially offered on Thursday to assist Turkey in its efforts to locate and salvage a Turkish Air Force fighter jet which crashed in the Aegean almost 20 years ago. Greek Defense Min...
Inside News
BASKETBALL
Greens lose badly as CSKA Moscow
Panathinaikos has a mountain to climb in order to reach the Final Four of the Euroleague after losing at CSKA Moscow on Friday for a second time in two days, only this time it was comprehens...
BASKETBALL
Former Red Bourousis wrecks Olympiakos´s hopes for a break
Olympiakos tried harder in Game 2 of the Euroleague play-offs in Spain, and Real Madrid was not as good on Thursday as in Game 1, but the Spaniards still emerged victorious on the night with...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
The placebo effect and the economy
Among the greatest mistakes made in the years of Greece’s hard landing is that citizens did not get the chance to sense that aside from austerity and pain the economic adjustment program als...
COMMENTARY
Ukraine is a crisis—but not a Cold War
Given Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the imposition of US and European sanctions, and the potential for more escalation in Ukraine, we are witnessing the most important geopolitical events s...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Greek Christians mark rare Good Friday in north Cyprus
2. Eurobank share offering on April 25-29
3. Greens lose badly as CSKA Moscow
4. Former Red Bourousis wrecks Olympiakos´s hopes for a break
5. PPC to issue corporate bond of 500 mln
6. Greece offers to help find Turkish F-16 lost in 1996
more news
Today
This Week
1. Greek Christians mark rare Good Friday in north Cyprus
2. Eurobank share offering on April 25-29
Today
This Week
1. Greece's market return mirrors return of tourists
2. Parties start announcing candidates for European Parliament elections
3. Greece startup leaders say they can’t break jobless cycle alone
4. Samaras sees no need for third bailout
5. Ground-breaking Good Friday mass signals thaw in Cyprus
6. IMF's Thomsen says Greece not fully financed to 2016
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.