We grew up listening and reading about the beautiful Greek beaches and the brilliant sun of Greece.
For many decades, people from all over the world have been visiting Greece to enjoy the unique Greek summer. Photos with sandy beaches and emerald waters travel around the world and are republished on social media platforms every day. But is Greece only sun and sea? Apparently not. Greece is culture, history, way of living but also tasty food.
This has always been recognized by people from other countries! Greeks know very well how to enjoy the tasty food with good company!
The history of Greek gastronomy is long. Even today, there are Greek recipes which were included in ancient Greeks’ daily diet. Over the years, Greek cuisine has evolved, and has become what we all know and enjoy nowadays.
Greece has a strong gastronomic culture. It has plenty of recipes, great local products and people who know how to cook and they love to do it daily, in every corner of the country. All this makes us believe that Greece, in the coming years, will be able to claim a high position on the world map of gastronomy tourism.
We already have the first thing we need, the good local cuisine.
The second thing that helps Greece, is that in general there is a good reputation of Greek cuisine abroad.
So, how do we have to move forward?
Gastronomy tourism does not just mean that those who come to Greece will eat good quality and delicious food. It means that we will offer high-quality gastronomic experiences such as food tours, cooking classes, wine tastings, visits to dairies, estates, etc.
All of these activities should be recorded and create a tourist product. We need to describe them well and price them fairly. These programs should then be promoted abroad, through travel agents but also directly to the general public.
It is out of question that the gastronomy experiences offered, should be of a high standard. They should attract the tourists for their quality in order to make them continue spreading the word about Greece, even when they leave our country.
Food was from ancient times a way for people to approach each other. In Greece, the family table is something sacred. It gathers relatives and friends, where issues that concern them are discussed. The family table in Greece is where the Greeks communicate their joy or sorrow.
Greek people are hospitable. They honor their visitor and easily offer him a seat on their family table, making him feel a member of the family.
These are our two strongest elements for the future development of Greek gastronomy tourism. Our good local cuisine and the strong hospitality that the Greeks have. It is a combination that if it is cultivated properly, it is irresistible.
The development of gastronomy tourism in Greece will bring significant benefits to the agricultural sector too, since local Greek products will be consumed. This will also greatly benefit the local community, so profits are much larger than anyone can imagine initially.
What we need is to create organized and attractive tourist programs. Speaking for organized proposals, we do not mean suggestions that appeal only large groups of tourists from abroad. We are talking about a detailed inventory of the gastronomy experiences we can offer to our guests.
This is precisely the process that we will have to follow throughout Greece, so that Greek food tourism can be shaped and become an autonomous tourist product.
We should all work towards this direction, knowing that in the coming years gastronomy tourism is expected to rise to very high levels. It would be a shame if Greece would not be on the top since it is a country with long gastronomy tradition and a strong sense of hospitality.
Maria Athanasopoulou is an Ambassador of the World Food Travel Association in Greece and Master Culinary Travel Professional. She is also the founder of the tourism marketing company Respond On Demand Ltd.