1st Local Focus Group meeting of the Aristotle Municipality in the context of the INTERREG MED project "SusTowns"
ANATOLIKI SA the Development Agency of Eastern Thessaloniki’s Local Authorities realized with great success the 1st Local Focus Group meeting of the Aristotle Municipality in the context of the project SUS TOWNS (Enhancing SUStainable tourism attraction in small fascinating MED TOWNS), a project co-financed by the Interreg MED program. The event was hosted on line via teleconference on the 26th of May 2020, adapting to the conditions created by the pandemic of COVID 19.
In the meeting participated and addressed welcoming speeches Mrs Voula Patoulidou the Deputy Regional Head of the Metropolitan Unit of Thessaloniki & President of the Tourism Promotion and Marketing Organization of the Prefecture of Thessaloniki, Mr Sokratis Samaras Chairman of the Board of ANATOLIKI SA and Mr. Stelios Valianos, the Mayor of the Aristotle Municipality.
The general coordination of the meeting was hold by Mr. Iakovos Sarigiannis General Manager of ANATOLIKI SA who opened the event and –after thanking all attendees- pointed out the severity of the situation and the uncertainty the Pandemic created in the Country and its core industry the Tourism Sector, an aspect adopted by all the speakers in the event.
On behalf of ANATOLIKI SA Mrs. Dimitra Kyriakopoulou presented the objectives and expected results of the SuSTownS project (Enhancing SUStainable tourism attraction in small fascinating MED TOWNS).The project aims at ensuring that small towns and settlements, as subjects of increased tourism trends, can avoid the destruction of their sensitive ecosystems by these flows. The Mediterranean region is characterized by numerous small towns, which have become tourist destinations over time, attracting many visitors thus favoring both economic growth and spatial expansion. The fluctuation of these tourist flows, however, has not progressed smoothly over the years, either due to mass tourism or due to the lack of tourism in the time of the pandemic. This sharp shift in the needs of small municipalities is upsetting the balance of the local community.
Mr. Grigoris Tassios, the president of the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation presented the timely issue of “Tourism in the Region of Central Macedonia and Halkidiki during the days of the pandemic”.
The position of the Municipality of Aristotle on Sustainable Tourism and their action plan with 18 thematic projects, as well as the need to respond and provide the maximum possible shielding of the tourist product against the threat of COVID-19, were presented by Mr. Nikolaos Avgerinos Deputy Mayor - Chairman of the Tourism Development Committee of the Municipality of Aristotle.
Mrs. Maria Pappa, CEO of the Mount Athos Area Organization, talked about the Local Initiatives and the Business cluster of the Municipality of Aristotle. The gastronomic tourism promoted in the area with the very successful annual KUZINA festival was presented and some input was given on how activities will adjust in the time of the pandemic.
The Mayor of the Aristotle Municipality Mr. Stelios Valianos concluded the series of presentations referring to the initiative of the Municipality of Aristotle which connects 22 local producers with accommodation and catering businesses in the area and thus creating an integrated touristic product. The purpose of the initiative is to promote local products in tourism enterprises and the support of the local entrepreneurs with promoting activities.
In the concluding part of the event the attendees, Mr. Grigoris Kaimakis (Union of Halkidiki Campings), Mr .Nikitas Martigakis, (member of the Municipality Board of Aristotle and member of the Tourism Development Committee), Mr.George Papazoglou (Professionals Association of Stratoni) Mr. Tsakoulis Christos (Professionals Association of Ouranoupolis ) and Mrs. Polytimi Markogiannaki (active citizen of the local community) took the speech. With their interventions, they expressed their anxiety about the near future on attracting tourists and the need for informative campaigns for the tourism entrepreneurs about COVID.
For more information about the project, visit the official website of ANATOLIKI http://anatoliki.gr/en/co-financed-projects/local-development/833-sus-towns as well as the project’s site https://sustowns.interreg-med.eu/