NEWS

Two different models of tourism development on two popular Greek islands

CHIOS: A beautiful island that does not depend on tourism, last year Chios saw an increase of 28 percent in the number of visitors. This year’s reduction is not expected to upset the island’s economy. Sailors, farmers, makers of preserves and drinks, the Chiotes have preserved the environment and the special character of their island. Tourism is mainly of high quality, with only 28 percent of it represented by charter flights. As G. Misetzis, member of the Association of Hotel and Rented Room Owners, who is also editor of the weekly newspaper Synchronos Logos, says, «The decrease in tourism on the island does not affect individual visitors but organized groups. Customers who travel alone have stable buying power and continue to travel as they did two or three years ago. We persist in trying to attract customers who are different from those seeking ever cheaper destinations in the Mediterranean.» Nature lovers «On Chios, for example, we have begun to attract nature lovers from Britain and walkers from Germany,» Misetzis adds. As for the professionalism of the Greeks, he remarks: «The small tourism professionals in Greece have to learn how to spend time on their customers. They should all know about the history and civilization of their country. We try to organize a program for our customers. If they like traditional celebrations, we’ll book a table for them at a festival, without a commission. If they want to learn about the ports of Chios, we’ll show them books. When customers leave, they mustn’t feel they have wasted their money; they should feel exhilarated.» PAROS: Equally successful is the super-luxury Astir of Paros. Located in the most touristy part of the island, this hotel, which charges 230-500 euros a night, is almost 100 percent full. Works of art, a heliport, limousines, suites and high-quality service have made the hotel, which is open from April to October, one of world’s finest. Not far away, in the less touristy parts of Paros, most hotels opened in June and do not expected to extend the season beyond the end of September. As S. Fokianos, president of the Paros Hoteliers’ Association says: «Wages are stagnant, households are in debt, the euro is going up and it costs as much to spend 10 days in Turkey as it does to travel to and from Paros.» Paros Mayor G. Ragousis is battling to «make entrepreneurs aware that prices have to stay at the same level as last year and more services should be offered. It has to be understood that the important thing is not the price but the relation between price and quality.» One of the most significant factors in this respect on the Cyclades is that of touts in ports who chase customers, «because they destroy the image of the island and harm competition.» Ragousis is determined to fight the phenomenon and has already taken legal action against the leader of the touts. The municipality has created reception, information and booking offices, where travelers can rest when they disembark, taste traditional products and book rooms.