The Region of Attica encapsulates the very best of Greece. BTN talks to the Governor of the Region of Attica, George Patoulis about this paradise tourism destination.
BTN: Tell us about the Region of Attica and which are the main tourist sites under your remit.
George Patoulis: The Region of Attica is a travel destination that can satisfy all travellers’ preferences and expectations, any time of year, as it combines many destinations in one.
It is a modern European metropolis with stunning cultural wealth; incredible coastline with endless, majestic beaches; mountain forests of extraordinary natural beauty; plains with famous vineyards and visitable wineries; lush green; aristocratic suburbs and a port city. The Region of Attica is Greece itself on a miniature scale.
The traveller can find gorgeous, picturesque and cosmopolitan islands, a stone’s throw away from the city, enjoy our rich gastronomic scene, endless shopping, exciting nightlife and alternative tourism experiences for each and every visitor, any season of year.
The cosmopolitan “Athenian Riviera” of Attica, from Palaio Faliro to Sounio, is an illustrative example for those who wish to swim, do water sports on spotless beaches, exercise and have fun. Τhe beaches of eastern Attica, a breath away from Athens, offer the ultimate feeling of summer coolness and relaxation. At the same time, for the lovers of the Greek islands, the experience in the diamond little islands of the Saronic gulf is unique. Aegina, Agistri, Poros, Spetses, Hydra are indicative examples, while Kythira and Antikythira, which are connected by air to Athens, are of unique beauty.
Our Attica has also a huge range of archaeological sites and museums. From the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora and Kerameikos to Eleusis, Sounio, Vravrona, Marathon, the walls of Piraeus and Salamis, the land of Attica has in its bowels the ancient Greek Culture, history, Architecture and philosophy. Attica is a modern European metropolis, boasting an amazing cultural wealth and an incredible coastline, famous vineyards and cosmopolitan islands – the region of Attica has it all!
BTN: Do you have any new offerings this summer season? And any new properties opening?
GP: The Region of Attica, through its special financial programs and its Operational Programme through NSRF (ESPA), contributes to the creation of important infrastructures and facilities throughout its territory. For example a large part of the National Gallery was completed through our funding, as well as two jewels that recently opened their doors: the Tsiller – Loverdou house, which evolved into the Museum of Greek Folk Art in Monastiraki. With our contribution, the creation of the Digital Acropolis Museum has also become a reality.
At the same time, we run important infrastructure and other projects that reinforce the sustainable living and lifestyle in the Region of Attica. In this context, and after many decades, the island of Aegina solved its water supply issue, as an important infrastructure project, the submarine pipeline, has been completed with our funding. Also, the first phase of the regeneration of the Athenian Riviera in the Faliro region – the main pillars of which are the promotion of nature, science, culture, and sports – has been completed and the second phase is about to start very soon. The project is expected to cost approximately 200 million euro and is contributing to the environmental and aesthetic upgrade of the area and the improvement of the quality of life for locals and visitors.
From the first moment we assumed our duties, we also gave special importance to the revitalization of Attica’s parks, with the aim of turning them into places for sports, wellness and environmental education.
A typical example are Athens’ central parks, such as the ” Pedion tou Areos ” and the historic “Alsos” Theater, but also the Metropolitan Park of Antonis Tritsis, which is also known as the Environmental Awareness Park. In collaboration with several public and private organizations, the parks now host an extended program of public events such as cultural events, social gatherings, concerts, exhibitions, sport events, etc.
BTN: You are nominated for ‘Europe’s Leading Sustainable Tourism Destination 2022’. What sustainability measures are you implementing?
GP: As the Governor of the Region of Attica, I have the pleasure of seeing Attica on the list of nominations with top global sustainability 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 competing with world class destinations as Baden-Württemberg, Dubrovnik, Edinburgh, Funchal, Pembrokeshire and the Algarve.
From September 2019 to date, we have consistently and responsibly implemented an integrated plan to serve our great goal, which is to make Attica the First “Green” Region of the country. At the same time, we are aiming at creating a Region shielded from the consequences of the climate crisis and safe, for its citizens and their properties. To protect the environment, in Attica today:
- A change in the solid waste management model is underway. By utilizing public and private funds, we are creating new, friendly to the environment waste management units, which will function as integrated Circular Economy Parks, so that we will stop burying garbage by 2025.
- We emphasize on recycling. One of the largest, 100% EU founded tenders for the supply of recycling equipment has been announced. The equipment will be distributed to all 66 municipalities of Attica free of charge.
- We promote the separate collection of biowaste and the construction of intermunicipal units for their management throughout Attica. At the same time, we distribute, free of charge, to all Attica’s municipalities, brown garbage trucks and about brown bins.
- To address the consequences of climate change, our technical services, in collaboration with the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and the Beyond Center of the National Observatory of Athens, formulated an updated Master Plan for the Region of Attica, regarding flood protection.
- We are updating, based on new data, the Region’s environmental studies.
- We invest in a modern model of civil protection, claiming resources and responsibilities and providing for the participation and training of volunteer citizens.
- We are the only Region of the country that, on a daily basis, monitors the situation of Attica’s streams and records, with absolute transparency, any intervention made on them.
- To date, a total of 150 flood protection projects have been completed or are in the process of being auctioned, funded by the Region’s own resources and the Operational Programme of the Region of Attica.
BTN: With Greece lifting all Covid restrictions, what stage in the recovery from the pandemic do you consider to be? And Greek tourism in general?
GP: 2019, the last year before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, was a record year for Greek tourism, as visitor arrivals from abroad reached 31.3 million travelers and, at the same time, travel traffic through airports increased by 1.6%, and through road stations by 9%.
This year, it is estimated that the figures will reach, and even may overcome, those of 2019.
Athens’ and the Attica Region’s rich culture, modern facilities and natural beauty provide a huge potential for sustainable tourism development. We can equally support long-term sea and mountain vacations as well as quick city breaks, giving therefore the opportunity to more travelers to come here in off-season periods, not just during the peak months.
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 projects do you have in the pipeline? And what’s your long-term vision for the Region of Attica?
GP: Our vision is to create a modern European Metropolis, the comparative advantages of which will be exploited to the fullest and culture will creatively coexist with development and innovation.
The largest Region of Greece, Attica, is changing its face, modernizing and upgrading the quality of life of its citizens. At the moment, Attica is a large construction site as more than 1.000 projects with a budget of more than 2.2 billion euros are underway.
We give priority to the valorization of Attica’s islands. Therefore, we are planning the supply of electric tour boats, so that our visitors can enjoy the unique landscape of Attica with the minimal environmental footprint. We combine green and blue Attica and invest in the promotion of Attica’s unique agro – food products and its unique gastronomy.
The Region of Attica is also very popular in terms of thematic tourism, such as health and wellness tourism. We envisage to create in Attica a village of Health, Wellness and Hospitality, which will allow the visitor to get to know the authentic Greece.
Finally, when the second phase of the Faliron Bay regeneration is completed, another important goal will have been achieved. An ecological park with mild sports activities, water sports area, a marina, a conference area, an open cinema, an aviation museum, a zone with recreational facilities and infrastructure etc will have been created. This project will restore the continuity between the city and the sea through the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center facilities, which include the National Opera House, the National Library and a Cultural / Educational Park.
With hard work, Attica is moving into a new “green” era through the implementation of a large waste management program, which transforms us from laggards into leaders in environmental protection.
Learn more by visiting athensattica.com/