Sunday November 23, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
18o C
10o 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 countrys 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 doesnt, 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 Marathons 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)  
Fitch keeps Greek rating at B, outlook stable
More cash for banks with same papers
Growth to fuel rise in revenues
Commercial property draws interest from investors
Cyprus on agenda in Biden visit to Istanbul
The prospects for the resumption of stalled peace talks on Cyprus and the issue of energy security were among the matters discussed on Saturday by US Vice President Joe Biden and Turkish gov...
PASOK nixes Papandreou leadership challenge
The junior coalition partner PASOK rejected over the weekend a proposal by the partys former leader and ex-premier George Papandreou for the party to call an emergency congress and a subseq...
Inside News
INTERVIEW
Tokyo hopes to change the world
The 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo will serve as a springboard for the rebuilding of Japans image and economy following the triple blow of the earthquake, tsunami and nuc...
BASKETBALL
Big win for Greens, tight one for Reds
Panathinaikos scored a crucial as well as emphatic away win at Turow on Thursday that should see it qualify from its tough group to the top 16 of the Euroleague, while Olympiakos saw off vis...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
Is Europe paying attention?
Barack Obama brought hope to the entire world when he was elected president of the United States in 2009 and then again in 2012 for a second term. During his first visit to Europe, marked by...
EDITORIAL
A reasonable agreement
Greece cannot and should not allow itself to be left without a safety net to make up for any funding needs that may crop up after the end of the year. Without such protection it would be at ...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
RECENT NEWS
1. Cyprus on agenda in Biden visit to Istanbul
2. PASOK nixes Papandreou leadership challenge
3. Troika tests govt nerves as budget rift persists
4. Climate change to hit farming, Greek coastline
5. Piraeus nightclub shooting leaves 3 seriously injured
6. London court to rule on extradition of former judge
more news
Today
This Week
1. PASOK nixes Papandreou leadership challenge
2. Piraeus nightclub shooting leaves 3 seriously injured
3. Fitch keeps Greek rating at B, outlook stable
4. Climate change to hit farming, Greek coastline
5. Cyprus on agenda in Biden visit to Istanbul
6. Troika tests govt nerves as budget rift persists
Today
This Week
1. Double quake on Atalanti fault line rattles Greek capital [Update]
2. Greece and Poland switch roles as young Greeks head to vibrant Eastern European country for better prospects
3. Anti-junta uprising anniversary to be marked amid tight security
4. Biden heads to Istanbul amid tension over Cyprus EEZ violation
5. Carlsberg takes control of Greek brewer Olympic Brewery [Update]
6. Every age has its collaborators
Find us ...
... on
Twitter
... on Facebook
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.