Destination Med Escapes

Mediterranean

A popular summer tourism destination thanks to its sun, sea and sand appeal, the Mediterranean is branching out to cater to new market trends. By Emily Millett.

Crystal waters, golden sandy beaches and stunning weather all characterise tourism in the Mediterranean. However, encapsulating multiple destinations and responding to shifting tourism trends, the region is evolving its offering and expanding its horizons.

“Tourism trends in the Mediterranean are not the same in all destinations and they depend on many things, such as value for money, safety and the general offer,” PR manager, Global PR, Croatian National Tourist Board, Luci Jerkovic explained to TTG.

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“For example, Croatia’s main product is still viewed as ‘sun and sea’ but we have also noticed a new trend through market research and that is the increase of different travel motives such as city break tourism, nautical tourism and wellness and spa.”

According to head of marketing and corporate communications, Atlas (a leading travel agency in Croatia), Nikolina Frklic, these devolvement’s are stimulating the arrival of new players on the scene.

“New destinations are managing to position themselves as alternative destinations, for example, Calabria, following the summer holidays sales growth in the Mediterranean. The demand for the Adriatic is also recording excellent trends,” Frklic told TTG.

OFF THE BEATEN TRACK

Over the past few years, the global tourism industry has been shifting in tune to the current major trend for experiential tourism and authenticity. In the Mediterranean things are no different, with hotels focusing on how to provide genuine experiences that one might not find in a typical guide book.

“A powerful trend we are noticing in tourism generally and not only in the Mediterranean, is a turn towards experiential tourism,” vice president of Vedema and Mystique, Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts, Santorini, Kalia Konstantinidou told TTG. “Guests are looking for experiences. They are not only looking for a nicely decorated room or a fine restaurant anymore. They want unique experiences that they can share with friends and family, and that they will not experience anywhere else.”

Speaking to TTG about how Croatia is responding to this move, sales manager, Calvados Club Luxury & Experiential Travel DMC, Croatia, Dolores Jakoliš said: “We have been incorporating authentic and off-the-beaten-track experiences into our programmes recently as part of a sustainable development vision of our company. We take our clients far from the tourist routes, into people’s homes; for cooking lessons; to local specialty making presentations; to abandoned villages; horseback riding with participants of local equestrian tournaments; [and transport them] deep into local culture for a better understanding and immersion into the region they are visiting.”

Meanwhile, in the Northern Greek Mediterranean escape of Halkidiki, the local tourism organisation is currently working on repositioning the area on the tourism map, with a new strategy to promote Halkidiki as the hidden secret of Greece.

“In order to meet the new challenges following our new strategy, we are presenting Halkidiki through the senses and not just beautiful photographs of exotic beaches,” marketing manager, Halkidiki Tourism Organisation, Tania Akritidou told TTG. “Our goal is to promote Halkidiki as a holistic experience beyond ‘sun and sea’.

“In the past few years, tourists started seeking new destinations and authentic experiences. They look for sustainable destinations, they want to taste local products while interacting with locals. They no longer want to buy a product, but rather live an experience. It’s time for a more authentic experience beyond the traditional way of travelling,” Akritidou added.

GET ACTIVE

On the back of the increase in experiential travel, industry insiders across the Mediterranean, are also witnessing an influx of visitors looking to get active on their travels.

“We have noticed an increase in active travel requests – people nowadays want to stay fit on vacation and we are responding accordingly. We have purchased our own bikes as well as minivans for bike support and bike transportation; we have trained guides to guide the biking and hiking routes; and we have a number of other activities in our offer, of course on a private basis,” Jakoliš shared.

Perhaps this trend is due to the region lending itself to active adventures and fitness activities, with a landscape that is ideal for hiking, cycling, horse-riding and all types of water sports.

Speaking to TTG about the action-packed potential of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, hotel manager, Alion Beach Hotel, Panicos Michael said: “Cyprus is seeing more active holiday vacationists as well as eco-tourism. The Mediterranean is a versatile area and the trends differ depending on the area. Hotels that cater for adults only are also becoming more and more popular, as people need to be able to completely unwind from their stressful work.”

Also in Cyprus, Z&X Holiday Villas is gearing up for a productive summer of active holiday makers visiting the island, with an extended portfolio and a newly renovated villa in Argaka, Paphos.

“We see a lot of active and adventure holiday makers this year,” business strategy and operations executive, Z&X

Holiday Villas, Anna Maria Chrysanthou told TTG. “They are into excursions, jeep safaris, water sports and village road tripping.”

CITY CULTURE

And although the Mediterranean is often thought of as an active sea and water sports region, a recent push in the popularity of urban city breaks in the area is helping to keep tourism figures on a constant rise.

“Zagreb Tourist Board is supporting the development of new tourism products, but also, we are continuing to improve our existing products such as specialised city tours, festivals and events that are recognised all over Europe in order to increase the awareness of Zagreb’s tourism offering within our main tourism markets,” noted CEO, Zagreb Tourist Board, Martina Bienefeld.

“Through collaboration with airline companies, such as Emirates Airline, Monarch and Turkish Airlines, we want to create a partnership that can contribute to the visibility and further promotion of the city as well as city’s new events. One of the key indicators in our business strategy is collaboration and creating a synergy with stakeholders in order to establish quality destination management and ensure sustainability and further tourism growth in Zagreb.”

And finally, moving back to Cyprus, to the vibrant, urban Mediterranean escape of Limassol, the city’s newly built, luxury marina is currently playing a significant role in attracting visitors and tourists to the area, as marketing and PR manager, Limassol Marina, Sophia Paraskeva told TTG: “We are still attracting more than 3,000 visitors daily at the Marina, a number which increases to over 4,000 over the weekend. This brings a steady influx of people to our dining, shopping and cultural facilities. We know that a large number of these visitors are coming to us from other cities and from our hotels, which is very encouraging. All the positive development going on in Limassol particularly is also helping to boost visits from nationalities with an affinity for the island!”