Sun? Sand? Culture Drawing Tourists to Greek Islands Too

Αssociated press

FILE - Reconstruction of the marble Stoa of Philip V, a major ancient public building on the island of Delos. (Photo by Ministry of Culture)

While most visitors to Greece use Athens as a pit stop - although it’s getting more popular - on their way to islands to frolic on beaches, swim, sunbathe and take it easy, officials are trying to showcase culture too after studies found only 63 percent are interested in that.

That’s about how many said they cared to leave the beach to see a cultural or archaeological site, said Kathimerini in a feature that showcased how island officials believe showing how many other attractions there are could add to the numbers of tourists.

Dozens of ambitious cultural initiatives are taking place around the islands this summer, the paper said, ranging from the Young Artists Festival celebrating its 10th anniversary on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, overrun with refugees and migrants.

This year’s event featured a touching musical event in memory of the hundreds of them who drowned while trying to reach the island and others near Turkey which allows human traffickers to operate during a largely-suspended swap deal with the European Union.

Backed by Munich’s Schwarz Foundation - not a Greek foundation or tax-free shipowners who have strong ties to islands - the festival brought together dozens of distinguished young musicians from around the world, merging the classical with the contemporary.

That came after the 7th International Film Festival on the island of Syros in the Cyclades that was so impressive that some said they would return annually for the event primarily as well as other attractions.

British artist Antony Gormley’s fascinating sculpture exhibition SIGHT on the nearly uninhabited Delos, famous from ancient times, drew many people come just to see that.

On the tourist-overwhelmed Santorini, a small cooperative by the name of Oia Vineyart combines art with local wine production, reported the paper’s Niko Efstathiou, also noting the The Andros International Festival having its fifth annual event although actor Leonardo DiCaprio trashed the island over it’s waste problems.

On the Saronic island of Hydra, playground of the rich and celebrities and with a strong cultural heritage, the old Slaughterhouse was transformed for a 10th year into an exhibition center featuring unique works inspired by the symbolism of the space.

Noted contemporary American artist Kiki Smith, born in West Germany explored her usual themes of regeneration with a number of beautiful abstract sculptures inspired by the small island famous for having been an occasional home base of the late Canadian singer Leonard Cohen.