The National Herald: How did Paros close out the 2018 tourist season?
Markos Koveos: Paros, thanks to the consistent and continuous marketing strategy that it has implemented in recent years, has reached the top of the tourist destinations in the Cyclades, marking a successful 2018 tourist season. This was also helped by the expansion of the airport, which gives even more significant growth prospects for the coming years. This expansion has brought development to the island, which are financed by the Greek government. Arrivals at the port were the best they have been in 35 years.
TNH: Does Paros do anything to target tourists in the off-season months?
MK: Given the success of the peak months, we are now seeking to extend the tourist season by promoting, above all, alternative activities for our future tourists. This is precisely the goal that reflects the strategy that has been drawn up for 2019: continue to highlight the cosmopolitan dimension of the island, which, unlike many other destinations, contains the elements of culture, including historical and religious monuments, along with gastronomy and all the other advantages it has at the level of tradition, such as the activities of the Cultural Associations, the festivals, etc. Our main concern, however, is the Hellenic protection of our island and the preservation of its traditional Cycladic character.
TNH: Can the tourist infrastructure of Paros support larger flows of tourists or the lengthening of the season?
MK: An ambitious tourism development plan must be accompanied by an improvement of infrastructure. Thus, we have made plans to improve our public transportation, to create fishing shelters (αλιευτικών καταφυγίων), and to establish an additional port of entry. We plan a number of other additions, including another sea entry station, and other developments that will ensure the growth that we expect during this year.
TNH: How can tourism in Paros be improved?
MK: Our main concern, as I said before, is to improve infrastructure as well as to protect the environment of the island, preserve its physiognomy, highlight its traditions and preserve its rich historical and cultural heritage. We do this first and foremost as a debt to our country, but also because we believe that the tourist development of an area cannot go against its values. Additionally, our aim is to maintain our recurring visitors and, if possible, to increase them. This means that we want to keep our tourists satisfied – which makes their happiness the focal point of our policy.
TNH: What drives the tourism of Paros?
MK: In order to avoid any problems from the increased tourist flow to the island in the summer, we focus on the quality of alternative forms of tourism, but, as I said before, our main goal is the sustainability and the preservation of the island – its environment and its tradition. Our goal is primarily to extend the tourist season, with the emergence of alternative forms of tourism, such as religious and archaeological trips, and immediately focusing on the upgrading of the infrastructure, with the main aim of establishing a viable tourist product.
We want to do this by strengthening our current market but also capitalizing on new or emerging ones such as the United States and Canada which have a large diaspora community.
TNH: Do you have any idea on how tourism will go this year in Paros?
MK: According to the data we have collected, we are optimistic that this year's tourism numbers in Paros will be spectacular. We have worked very diligently and believe that our efforts will be justified again this year.