An innovative and interesting two-day event titled “Rebranding Elatochori” took place on the 26th & 27th of May, initiated by a conference in Elatochori, Pieria. The relevant actions were inspired, designed and organized by the forty students of the program “Recharging Youth” and particularly the Alternative Tourism sector. The program is implemented by the Strategic Project Management Office of the American Farm School in cooperation with Rutgers University, New Jersey and funded by “ Stavros Niarchos Foundation”.
The new, proposed touristic profile for Elatochori of Pieria which has the flowers of Sideritis Scardica as a brand, is the outcome of research on the area by the students and their professors. The event was implemented under the auspices of the Prefecture of Central Macedonia with the collaboration of other public and private organizations.
The proposed touristic product is holistic and combines several by-products, including gastronomy, hiking, creative workshops, events, etc., with the purpose of projecting the region’s rich mythology and history to the present time, take full advantage of the natural wealth (products and landscape), and aiming to attract the desired profile and number of visitors.
During the conference, on the first day, the students had the opportunity to refer to their proposals, while specialists referred to the natural and historical wealth of the region.
Immediately afterwards, locals and visitor who filled the conference room participated in a very lively discussion. Several problems in the infrastructure, in the way by which the region is promoted and advertised, and in the cooperation between stakeholders were pinpointed.
Elatohori had based its touristic development mainly on its ski center as well as on the Greek weekend excursionists who were sufficiently enough before the financial crisis. Thus, a relatively good hotel infrastructure and relevant activities around tourism had gradually developed. After crisis though, weekend visitors started to diminish while, due to climatic changes the ski center could not operate for a sufficient period of time; therefore, the previous tourism development model collapsed.
The first day of the event was completed by the historical symposium “NόστιμονΗμαρ» where the 200 guests had the chance to experience the new gastronomic identity of Elatochori.
On the completion of the actions that took place on the second day of the event, visitors, local businessmen, representatives of local authorities, and tourist operators had the chance to evaluate the students’ proposals in a very lively discussion in a workshop. Students underlined the basic actions that need to be taken by the stakeholders in order to put Elatochori back on the map of touristic destinations and delivered their studies to them.