Tourism scales the mountains

Dozens of students are helping Greece’s efforts to attract tourists by training to be mountain guides as part of an initiative intended to exploit the natural beauty the country has to offer apart from beachside resorts, a local official told Kathimerini yesterday. The Tourism Development Ministry recently created a technical college for mountain tourism, at which some 80 students have enrolled. When the students graduate, they will be officially classified as mountain guides and will be the first Greeks to boast this title. This move is part of a drive to boost Greece’s chances of attracting year-round tourism as opposed to the vast majority of summer visitors who go to islands or seaside resorts. Since coming to power last March, the ruling conservatives have emphasized that they want to make Greece more than just a seasonal destination. After what has been deemed a bumper year for the tourism industry in Greece, experts are predicting that mountain resorts will soon gain in popularity. At present, more than 120,000 visitors (60 percent of them from abroad) flock to Mount Olympus in central Greece each year. This figure is expected to rise. «The further blossoming of mountain tourism means that the new graduates will find jobs,» Christos Gosliopoulos, the mayor of Nestori in the municipality of Kastoria, told Kathimerini. «Tens of guest houses and hotels are being built near areas of natural beauty.» Kastoria is a mountainous area in northern Greece and has been a big supporter of the scheme to offer studies in mountain tourism. «When they finish their studies, there will be four guest houses and a large hotel operating in the area around Nestori alone,» said Gosliopoulos.