Thessaloniki is the city that I have chosen to call home; it is the epicenter of my life, both personal and professional. Thessaloniki is a city to see, to feel, to taste, stretching along an endless seafront, full of colors, and with a history spanning over 24 centuries. Yet, if you asked travelers to name some of Greece’s tourism destinations off the top of their heads, you’d probably get a list of various islands and, of course, Athens. It doesn’t have to be this way. So what can we do about it?
Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that Thessaloniki is a city of undisputable tourism potential—potential that is limitless and rife with possibilities. And the experts concur. Thessaloniki is a destination that can attract visitors all year round, visitors eager to participate in and experience the life of the city. Therefore, it is crucial to further develop its strengths and assets, particularly in the fields of cultural and religious tourism, city breaks, conferences and exhibitions, and food tourism, as a culinary metropolis offering unique food and dining. It is clear that there is a long and winding road ahead of us. To date, despite good intentions, only bits and pieces have been implemented; but all of our efforts should be in cohesion with the national and regional plans. As a result of it, we can attract visitors with different motivations and interests, all of whom considered tourists to be welcomed.
We need to create a brand that goes beyond the core product in terms of marketing, an identity that appeals to the senses
We need to create a brand that goes beyond the core product in terms of marketing, an identity that appeals to the senses. After all, traveling has become a quest to collect and curate experiences, and Thessaloniki offers plenty of them. In this context, social media is an ideal platform for turning satisfied tourists into brand ambassadors. But beware; for any of this to succeed, the prerequisite infrastructure must be in place. We need communication networks, public transport, and functional points of entry.
Finally, cruise tourism deserves a special mention as a competitive advantage of Thessaloniki, as recent studies have shown that six out of ten people who have taken a cruise have subsequently returned to a destination they originally visited on a cruise, pointing to a lasting sentimental bond. The docking of a ship involves various local stakeholders and businesses. The current season has been promising so far, with arrivals numbers rising, and Thessaloniki Port Authority definitely deserves a part of the credit. Nonetheless, more must be done to connect cruise passengers with Thessaloniki and its people, simple but effective measures that can make our city a destination of heartfelt choice.