Greece: The Uniqueness of East Macedonia and Thrace, Interview with the Deputy Governor of Tourism from the Region
East Macedonia and Thrace is one of Greece’s 13 regions. Located in the northern part of the country, it is bordered by Bulgaria to the north, Turkey to the east, and Central Macedonia to the west. This region is famous for its unique mix of traditional culture and is a popular tourist destination due to its stunning landscapes, beautiful beaches, and lively nightlife.
If you're planning a trip to East Macedonia and Thrace, one of the must-visit places is the city of Kavala. Known as an industrial hub in the region, Kavala is also home to many historical sites that are often included in tour packages. These ancient ruins, some dating back to 600 BC, are a remarkable reminder of the former Greek Empire. The city is also filled with parks and natural reserves, which are now habitats for various species of plants and wildlife.
Another city to explore is Drama, located in the western part of the region. The city has various museums that showcase different periods in the country's history. From the Archaeological Museum's display of ancient relics to the Byzantine Museum's collection of icons and artifacts, Drama transports visitors to a long-forgotten time.
The region of East Macedonia and Thrace is one of the most preferred summer destinations for Bulgarians. The border crossings located in the area are Gotse Delchev - Drama, Zlatograd - Xanthi, Makasa - Nympheia, Ivaylovgrad - Kyprinos and Kapitan Petko Voivoda - Ormenion. The region also includes destinations known to Bulgarians such as Drama, Kavala, Xanthi, Komotini, Alexandroupoli and the islands of Thassos and Samothraki. The most famous are the beaches along Kavala, Keramoti, Alexandroupoli and the two islands. But in addition, the region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace offers adventure tourism, cultural tourism, wine tourism, culinary tourism and beautiful nature, as this is where the Greek part of the Rhodopes is located.
Greece expects €18 billion in tourism revenue this year. The season will reopen in March, as it did in 2022, with the strategy to promote the country as a year-round destination and focus on advertising inland tourist sites and resorts that remain off the tourist flow. The country reported record results last year in terms of tourist arrivals and revenue compared to 2019, before the pandemic.
The Deputy Governor of Tourism from the Region of East Macedonia and Thrace Mr. Tsonis gave a special interview for Novinite.
Last year was the first since the pandemic in which there were no significant restrictions on travel and tourism. How would you compare 2022 to 2020/21? Do you think the tourism sector has recovered?
After two years of pandemic and travel restrictions, but still with a satisfactory number of tourist inflows considering the circumstances, Greek Tourism managed to recover in 2022 with excellent results. The year went better than expected for the whole country. As for our own Region, we had visitors from all neighboring countries but also from the wider region of the Balkans, central Europe and, of course, from other parts of Greece as well.
Overall, I would say that, yes, we have now managed to overcome the pandemic, although the war in Ukraine, as well as the energy crisis, created a challenging environment that made our work more difficult.
However, we managed to achieve particularly encouraging results. In fact, in the context of a broader strategy for the tourism promotion of the Region as a leading all-season destination abroad, we have already started the promotion of PAMTH's (The Region of East Macedonia and Thrace) latest campaign with the key message “A Hug Full of Greece”. It should also be noted that 2023 is expected to be even better for Greek tourism.
The region of East Macedonia and Thrace is very popular among Bulgarian tourists and is often a preferred alternative to the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. What do you think are the reasons and how does Greece manage to attract so many tourists?
The proximity to Bulgaria and the relatively short distances that one has to travel to come to our Region by road are major reasons to visit us. Access is easy and our Bulgarian neighbors love our land, its gastronomy, entertainment options, beaches, nature and our two islands, Thassos and Samothrace. On every occasion, we organize events and activities that promote PAMTH as an ideal tourist destination, as well as press trips, and we do not fail to participate in tourism exhibitions held in Bulgaria including business meetings that make the region more widely known, and generate partnerships and tourist packages.
Regarding the tourism promotion of PAMTH, as we have said in the past, our aim is to highlight the uniqueness of the region, which is truly a blessed place with great diversity and one that can offer the visitor countless experiences, not only during the summer but also throughout the year. For example, in the region of East Macedonia and Thrace, one can visit beautiful, vibrant and historic cities such as Alexandroupoli, which is an ideal city break destination.
What can surprise tourists who often visit the region?
I believe that no matter how many times someone comes to the Region of East Macedonia and Thrace, they will always make new discoveries. Apart from the sandy beaches and the crystal-clear waters all along the Riviera, there is the unspoiled and fascinating island of Samothrace with its stunning natural beauty, its stone basins (called vathres) and paths, its breathtaking beaches and good food. There is also the island of Thassos, which you already know, with its countless options for swimming, accommodation, food and entertainment. In addition, there are still many places that enchant the visitor such as the Evros Delta, the Nestos Nesta, Lake Vistonida, the forest of Dadia and of course our cities. Kavala, Xanthi, Komotini, Alexandroupoli...Countless options for getaways into nature, unique culinary delights, cultural experiences entertainment and so much more!
Do you have any recommendations for Bulgarian tourists?
What a traveler is well advised to do before deciding to visit our Region is to see what his or her needs are. Bulgarians are repeaters so they can visit us for a different reason each time. In February, for example, thousands of Bulgarians will come to Xanthi to experience the carnival events up close. What I mean is that if someone comes for a family holiday they will probably choose our coastal destinations and islands, if they come for a weekend and love nature, they can participate in dozens of outdoor activities or have fun in one of our cities, taste Thracian flavors and enjoy sightseeing walks. PAMTH can satisfy all types of visitors and there is a correspondingly wide range of accommodation for all budgets.
Find more information about the region on their official website: East Macedonia and Thrace.
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