The Archaeological Site of Olympia, in the historic and culturally rich region of Ilia, Greece, was a fitting venue for an event held this week by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, designed to kickstart a government initiative to strengthen synergies between culture and tourism.
Speaking at the event, Culture Minister Lina Mendoni addressed the need for such programmes, that would serve to further enhance the tourist experience, thereby providing a boost to local communities and, in turn, to the national economy.
The minister explained the reasoning behind the new campaign at the event entitled, ‘Ilia 2030 – Ancient Olympia at the Epicenter’, saying, “Investments in culture always benefit local communities, the local economy and ultimately the national economy.
“During the construction phase of a cultural project, a one-euro investment over a period of five years returns 3.44 euros to the economy.”
The Ministry of Culture has currently allocated a budget of 12 million euros to cultural projects in the Ilia region, including the establishment of museums and restoration of archaeological sites, she said.
Mendoni went on to explain that a prime focus of the initiatives is ‘special interest tourism’, in particular, looking to improve the touristic experience in the area for travellers aged 65+ years.
According to Mendoni, Ilia region’s two great comparative advantage are “its cultural wealth and its magnificent natural environment,” which make it a perfect destination for senior travellers who are “who are looking for places that combine nature and culture.”
Home to the site of the first Olympic Games in 776 BC, the UNESCO listed ruins of Ancient Olympia are one of the archaeological highlights of the Ilia region.
“The Olympic Games, for example, are associated with a vast heritage, mythology, history, timeless values, and must have a decisive role in the development dynamics of the region,” Mendoni said.
“Besides infrastructure, the state must ensure that there are synergies with all local bodies to create cultural routes with the aim of extending the time visitors stay in Ancient Olympia and Ilia,” said Mendoni, who revealed that lesser-known sites and monuments such as the Temple of Epicurious Apollo and the Caiaphas Thermal Baths, known since antiquity for their healing properties, are also to be publicised and included on tourist itineraries and programmes as part of this latest push.
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