Greece’s culinary heritage is an untapped treasure for the tourism sector, say experts


Greece does not promote its culinary tourism the way it should, given the wealth of the country’s culinary delights and the size of incoming tourism centering on its natural and cultural attractions, experts say, as planning for the 2019 tourism season gets under way.

Professionals from the sector regard gastronomy as one of the most promising fields of alternative tourism for Greece thanks to the diversity of its food and drink traditions, the quality of its products – ranking among the country’s main exports – as well as the global trend for exploring local foods and products.

Experts blame the lack of central policy in the failure to promote Greek cuisine as a key theme in the country’s campaign to expand and diversify its tourism appeal. They say this is a dimension that should serve a key objective of Greek tourism policy for boosting quality and revenues.

Haris Tzannis, a food editor and food experience designer, believes that the huge potential of Greece’s gastronomy tourism is largely untapped.

“This is an unused treasure. We have a deficit in this area. It is vital that we promote experience tourism through Greek flavors,” he told Xinhua.

The problem does not lie only in the country’s central promotional campaigns at home and abroad, but also in the failure on the part of hotel businesses to promote this experience to their guests.

In the past few years, a Hellenic Chamber of Hotels Greek Breakfast initiative showcasing Greek delicacies in hotel buffets has been a success, yet only about 1,100 hotels across the country took part – a small fraction of Greece’s 9,783 hotels, according to 2017 figures.

“Most hoteliers are not familiar with the wealth and variety of domestic produce,” said Tzannis. “We cannot have such good material to work with and not promote it.”

Tourists themselves could be the best ambassadors for Greece as a culinary destination, according to Kostas Siolas, cofounder of Greek Way, a company packaging high-quality products from around the country into boxes and cases for sale or distribution at hotels and conferences as souvenirs.

“Greek gastronomy is an experience tourists can share with their friends and relatives at home after their visit to this country, making up for the shortage in the promotion of Greece as a gastronomic destination,” Siolas said. “In general, we are not so good at promoting ourselves,” he added.

Tourism is an essential pillar of the Greek economy, with the country expecting to host more than 30 million visitors this year and collect revenues of over 15 billion euros ($16.95 billion). [Xinhua]