CULTURE

A new angle for tourism: A for Athens Riviera

The day will come when, asked about where they’re planning to spend their vacations, British, Japanese and Canadian holidaymakers might very well say, “The Athens Riviera.” What springs to mind is a coastal stretch from Faliro, southern Athens, to Cape Sounio, a lacework strip of land bathed in light and associated with the excitement of summer memories.

What many Greeks consider to be the country’s answer to California – or at least a place associated with youthful joy, where they danced, swam and daydreamed – could develop into a major advantage for the Greek capital and its place on the international map of competitive global tourism. Those not familiar with Athens are often surprised to hear that the southern suburb of Vouliagmeni, for instance, is so near the Acropolis.

The area has a storied history dating to the 1930s, a time when another southern Athenian suburb, Glyfada, was already showing off its first villas. The booming 1955-65 period was a time when the modern part of Athenian society congregated at the Asteria, the era’s hip live music/restaurant/nightclub, also located in Glyfada. Besides, the essence of the term “cosmopolitan” is intrinsically linked to rivieras around the world, whether in France, Italy, Croatia, Britain or the United States, among others. Strips of land fit for leisure, showcasing a high standard of living and defined by their elegant and high aesthetics where sweet nostalgia meets the dynamics of the future.

While the Athens Riviera boasts its own unique features, an intelligible, attractive coded packaging could provide the right framework for its promotion. It’s a matter of visual vernacular. This is the position adopted by a team of Greek professionals who came up with a highly detailed proposal for the development of a tourism product called the “Athens Riviera,” part of a strategic framework for promoting the Greek capital as an autonomous travel destination.

Comprising Michalis Georgiou, Alexandros Gavrilakis and Dimitris Stefanidis, the G Design Studio spotted an opportunity for Athens and, based on the company’s ample international experience, has come up with a well-balanced corporate identity that includes and suggests routes and applications. With regard to the campaign’s message strategy, the team worked together with communication strategist Vivian Efthimiopoulou, an expert in the field of political and cultural goods communication, as well as the development of identity, both corporate and for private parties.

“Our design approach is based on a compilation of all the individual elements of the area we chose, following a detailed study of the coastal front and, of course, taking into consideration different international practices in the field of destination branding, especially in the creation of a Riviera identity,” said Stefanidis.

What the team did was outline, organize, group together and distinguish the dense elements of the Athens Riviera through the use of an attractive visual language and fresh identity that highlights the area’s emotional depth, nostalgic aura, sensual dynamic, contemporary language, international flair and “local dialect.”

“Throughout the entire process our main concern was for our ideas to be able to be easily and swiftly implemented without the need for architectural, constructive or any other intervention,” noted Stefanidis.

Indeed, the proposal’s main advantage is its simplicity, practical spirit and elegant language. It does not require major funding while at the same time it provides an answer to the challenge of the times, which is the creation of synergies. The project’s core idea distinguishes between the three structural elements of the Athens Riviera brand: beaches, leisure and culture, which coexist as a whole and as individual units.

For the campaign, the G Design Studio came up with a bright and intelligible symbol, A for Athens, from which the connecting identities of beaches, leisure and culture emanate. The design team suggests that the A for Athens motto could become a visual vehicle on trams, buses and taxis, for instance, while in the product division the mantra could figure on beach accessories such as towels, for instance. With the addition of gastronomy, which would be all the synergies together, the www.athensriviera.gr communication platform could serve as a hub, both receiver and emitter.

Following collaborations with Ikaros Editions, the Athens State Orchestra and the Acropolis Museum, the G Design Studio is now venturing into tourism promotion, one of the capital’s top priorities.

“Our proposal for the Athens Riviera essentially recaps every serious discussion regarding tourist development in the broader Attica region and the coastal strip that has taken place over the last few years,” noted Efthimiopoulou. “We have studied the history of the area’s tourism and construction development, along with the strategies adopted by the Tourism Ministry and the City of Athens, together with projects such as that of the Niarchos Foundation currently in development at the Faliro Delta.”

An Athens Riviera comprising a symmetric triangle extending to and including the Acropolis, Cape Sounio and the Temple of Aphaia on the Saronic island of Aegina, is a very nice thought. A rare treasure indeed.