Can destination management reinforce the status of Rhodes and Santorini, two major destinations in Greece, and pave the way for practices of sustainable tourism development all over the country? 

Since May 2019, a pilot programme by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has created a framework of cooperation for key stakeholders such as the Ministry of Tourism, Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) and the Chambers of Commerce of Dodecanese and Cyclades. Toposophy, together with Team Consulting and Yellow Railroad, comprise the international consortium of consultants who will deliver the programme by the end of October 2019.

Rhodes and Santorini have been among the top performers of inbound tourism in Greece over the last six years. However, both destinations could become a victim of their own success.

Growth of International Air Arrivals in Top Greek Destinations (2012-2018, based on data by INSETE)

Rhodes is endowed with unique attractions of cultural and natural heritage, yet it is basically established as a must-have for sun and sea holidaymakers. Intense seasonality and inadequate levels of visitor spending are the primary consequences of this pattern.

Santorini, on the other hand, has the duty to protect the legacy of breath-taking landscape scenery and romantic sunset views. It is required to optimize visitor management, ensure high quality and value money experiences both for day visitors and overnight tourists, and diversify product offerings based on the island’s most characteristic qualities (e.g. architecture, local cuisine, geology). Also, to respond to a series of phenomena (e.g. congestion, uncontrolled sprawling, inefficient use of water/energy resources) which undermine the local communities’ quality of life and the perceptions of both actual and prospective visitors.

The pilot programme has a clear mandate. To address all these issues and provide guidelines for practical solutions as part of two destination management plans, one for each island. The programme is broadened by the development of a destination management guide for the preparation of similar plans in other destinations around Greece.

Such a mandate has profound implications in relation to the rigour of research tools employed, the range of resources collected and analysed, and the delicate steps required to ensure stakeholder and local community engagement.

The situation analysis that was completed in May, was informed by 150+ studies and reports about the latest international trends of destination management, the current performance of tourism supply and demand in each island and the key impacts of tourism development.

June was then devoted to a series of consultative workshops and community fora, where our team of consultants learned about the aspirations and concerns of key stakeholders and local communities. We also explored current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats and market priorities by using online, live polls and interactive sessions.

Currently, In July, we have focused on undertaking 25+ follow-up interviews with key local figures and industry representatives (e.g. from cruise companies) and a series of eight online surveys with target audiences including past visitors, tourism businesses and members of local communities.

More information about all these activities and the full timetable of works by the end of October is available at the official website of the programme; a mini hub for disseminating important information about ongoing progress and strengthening community engagement especially in relation to the online surveys (in Greek).

Did you know?

TOPOSOPHY has created useful tools for European cities seeking to manage tourism growth and transform destination marketing organisations in order to serve their destinations better. Find out more about the ECM Toolbox on Managing Tourism Growth in Europe, as well as the Manifest on the Future of DMOs. We have also informed the development of a new strategy for the city of Edinburgh, carried out destination master lans for Scottish destinations including Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire, and the Tay Cities Region, and set the scene for the development and marketing of the Culture Route of Central Greece





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