With the Greek tourism hotspot having been nominated for a top title at the World Travel Awards, Breaking Travel News here sits down with Attica regional governor, George Patoulis, to find out more.
Breaking Travel News: Can you tell our readers who might be unfamiliar with the region of Attica what is on offer there? The destination is centred on Athens, but there is a lot more to see?
George Patoulis: What has Attica got to offer? Attica is a region unique in its diversity!
A place where historical, cultural and natural wealth merge with modern urban life to make an extraordinary experience for travellers at any time of year.
A metropolis for the modern era, offering exceptional opportunities for everyone!
From Elefsina down to the temple of Sounio and the port of Lavrio, from the islands of the Saronic gulf all the way to Kithira, the visitor can discover ancient monuments, experience the beauty of nature along picturesque trails, savour exquisite flavours courtesy of its fertile land and taste wines of exceptional quality.
It combines stunning mountains and forests with incredible beaches, mere minutes away from the city.
Its urban neighbourhoods are full of life and distinctive character and just a hop from the bustling port city of Piraeus awaits the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the Greek Islands.
The day holds countless sightseeing and shopping options, the night is guaranteed to offer a lively and colourful range of entertainment.
Each and every traveller is welcomed not only to visit and discover but to become a part of Attica’s unique identity and way of living.
The region of Attica, with extensive actions and initiatives, contributes to the implementation of strict health protocols, to ensure that our visitors are safe and free to enjoy our destination to the full.
BTN: How would you describe the mood in Greek tourism as we head into the 2021 high season? Is there optimism the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic is past?
GP: The last few months have been unprecedented and difficult for our country and, of course, for Attica.
We faced an extraordinarily severe health crisis, which we were called upon to manage without having any knowledge of how much worse it might become or how long it might last.
We needed to adapt to a new reality, with substantial limitations in most of our daily activities.
The travel sector and the tourism industry were among the first to be significantly hit by the pandemic and become subject to restrictions.
A new landscape for tourism has emerged in the post-Covid-19 era, requiring a different perspective and innovative approaches to policy-making and public initiatives.
We have come through a difficult period and, with the help of science and vaccination, can start looking with optimism to the future of our country, which naturally includes our own region of Attica.
We should not forget that Attica boasts many stand-out features that make it even more attractive as a destination, as well as an abundance of untapped potential.
Through its unique combination of urban, semi-urban and coastal areas, its rich cultural heritage, its great attractions and its vast array of experiences, the destination of Attica has a highly promising future ahead.
A new wave of investments and a series of ambitious projects, some of which are already underway, are going to capitalize on our existing advantages and radically change and enhance the image and identity of Attica.
BTN: What measures are in place to keep guests safe as they begin to return to Attica after the enforced break in tourism?
GP: For all of us in the region of Attica, safeguarding the health of citizens and visitors is of the utmost importance.
In light of this, tourism now works hand in hand with epidemiological monitoring and scientific advice, resulting in important ongoing actions and initiatives.
Despite the problems caused by the pandemic, we work systematically to ensure public health and safety and to make travelling into Attica as smooth and pleasurable a process as possible, adapting our Covid-19-related initiatives to the requirements of the international tourism market.
The most crucial safety factor for Attica is the vaccination rate, which has already surpassed 80 per cent for its islands and tourist areas, while the vaccination coverage for the region as a whole is increasing by the day.
What is important is that the Attica region is ready to welcome its visitors to experience its “cosmopolitan charm” and the variety of options on offer.
We will continue to closely monitor the situation and safeguard public health on the islands and along the coastline of Attica throughout the tourist season, so that all visitors feel safe to visit its unique attractions and participate in its activities.
BTN: What is new in the region for summer 2021 – have you welcomed any new properties or attractions you are keen to share with our audience?
GP: Attica is a modern metropolis, which is constantly evolving and renewing itself.
This year, which marks 200 years since the beginning of the Greek War of Independence, we had the pleasure of completing a project of great significance for the city of Athens.
The brand-new National Gallery is a modern and very elegant museum, a striking cultural space, connecting Greece’s rich past with the present day.
It should be noted that a significant part of the €18 million that went into its restoration was covered by the region of Attica through the Attica Regional Operational Program, co-funded by the EU Cohesion Funds 2007-2013 and the Attica Regional Operational Program 2014-2020.
Inside the National Gallery, visitors can enjoy a unique section with exhibits depicting the course of the Greek Revolution, which commenced in 1821.
We are delighted that this special 200-year anniversary exhibition takes its rightful spot as the centrepiece of the new gallery until the end of this historic year, after which it will make way for a permanent collection intended for the same space.
On top of this, with funding from the region of Attica, we completed work on the building complex of the Ziller-Loverdos Mansion, which is a branch of the Byzantine Museum.
Indeed, the building itself is an architectural, historical, cultural and technological landmark that has made a considerable contribution to the urban physiognomy of Athens.
BTN: Finally, the region of Attica has been nominated for the title of Europe’s Leading Seaside Metropolitan Destination 2021. How important is this title for the destination? How important is this title for the destination?
GP: As the governor of the region of Attica, I have the pleasure of seeing Attica on the list of nominations with top global coastal tourist destinations in the World Travel Awards, a highly prestigious institution in the tourism industry.
It is a unique distinction, and even more so considering that we are now rubbing shoulders with places like Barcelona, Venice, Istanbul, Lisbon, Porto and Dubrovnik.
This nomination gives us the strength and inspiration to continue the hard work and to sustain our efforts to modernise and showcase the entire coastline of Attica, as part of our plans for the region as a whole.
A modern European metropolis, stunning cultural wealth, an incredible coastline, famous vineyards and cosmopolitan islands – the region of Attica has it all.
Find out more about visiting on the official website.