Thursday August 21, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
29o C
23o 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)  
Greek stocks post rise of 0.99 percent
Banks reject stress test concerns
Greek energy minister requests gas back-up
Greece an alternative route for South Stream, report suggests
Botched steroid deal led to Mani murders
A deal to sell steroids gone wrong appears to have been the reason for the murder of two bodybuilding fanatics, aged 25 and 26, whose bodies were found on Tuesday in a ravine on the outskirt...
Public works near completion, minister says
Eight public works projects, including the completion of a new stretch of highway at the notorious Maliakos Gulf in central Greece, are due to be completed by the end of the year Infrastruct...
Inside News
SOCCER
Greek soccer officials in refereeing probe to face prosecutor on Sept 15
Eleven soccer officials were on Wednesday given until September 15 before they have to face prosecutor Aristidis Koreas, who is investigating allegations that the draws to decide which match...
ATHLETICS
Long jumper Tsatoumas takes Greece´s second silver at European Championships
Greece won its second medal at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich, Switzerland, on Sunday with Louis Tsatoumas coming second in the long jump. Briton Greg Rutherford won the even...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
Logged out of reality
It is a global phenomenon, and we have yet to fully grasp its implications for democracy and the functionality of Western states. The Internet is a bottomless well of information and a vast ...
EDITORIAL
Manipulated institutions
Greece’s leftist opposition must not manipulate an institution as important as the President of the Republic for the sake of political ends. Regrettably, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras appears...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Botched steroid deal led to Mani murders
2. Greek stocks post rise of 0.99 percent
3. Banks reject stress test concerns
4. Greek energy minister requests gas back-up
5. Greece an alternative route for South Stream, report suggests
6. Public works near completion, minister says
more news
Today
This Week
1. Greek current account surplus widens in June
2. Two missing men found shot dead near Kalamata
3. Logged out of reality
4. Greek firms see 30 pct rise in PayPal payments from abroad in 2014
5. ECB in policy limbo, boxed in by its own plans
6. Greece to give children at primary school road safety lessons
Today
This Week
1. Carved sphinxes at Ancient Amphipolis tomb will not be removed
2. Canada’s fiscal adjustment has lessons for Greece
3. Treating Amphipolis with care
4. Greece to offer law on restructuring bad loans next month
5. Greece’s recession eases as country nears end to six-year slump
6. Ministry sys ‘no’ to debt collection agencies
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.