Study visit in the Region of East Macedonia &Thrace, Greece

Monday, July 8, 2013

In the end of June study visit in Greece were organized to present good practices for senior tourism in the region of East Macedonia & Thrace.

During the study visit representatives of the Municipality of Komotini introduced the ‘Multicultural Itinerary of Komotini-Maroneia’. The route presents harmonic cohabitation of population groups with different religious and cultural traditions which is evident all over the city of Komotini. Komotini is the capital of Thrace, located in the north-eastern part of Greece, in the prefecture of Rodopi. It is the centre of the administrative region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, home of the enlarged Prefecture of Rodopi - Evros and Rodopi prefecture's capital. 

Throughout the walking tour the following sites were introduced to the partners: the Castle & The Byzantine Wall - the largest and oldest monument in the city; the Church of the Assumption; the old city and the Muslim mosque; the clock tower.

A big part of the infrastructure of this route is now reconstructed by the Municipality in order to serve the needs of disadvantaged groups (blind, disabled and senior people) creating an accessible environment.

During the study visit partners visited also the Visitor Centre of Evros Delta in Traianoupoli, where the nature conservation works in the Evros Delta, the possibilities ecotourism and public the ecological values of Evros Delta were introduced. The Centre is responsible for the management, protection and promotion of the protected area. The information centre provides transportation to the Delta and tactical navigation in areas of high environmental value and attractiveness with trained personnel and appropriate and safe means for the elderly such as buses, watercraft boats on water routes.  The Evros Delta is internationally acknowledged as an ecological important area. The territory possesses a diversity of life forms, it is of high importance for the migratory journey of numerous birds, and also for the dynamic evolution of its habitats.

The Visitor Centre is open throughout the whole year, it attracted around 10 000 visitors. Most of the tourists are bird watchers (mainly from Northern Europe – UK, DE, NL), however they target almost all groups of age, therefore they welcome senior tourists as well.

Further information on the good practice:


In the afternoon Tourage group travelled to the town of Xanthi (55 km West of Komotini), where they had the chance to have a guided tour around the old city and also see the presentations of the other three good practices (i.e. Women cooperative of Kokinogeia, Xanthi`s Old Town festival and Mud Baths of Krinides).

Since 1991, Xanthi’s Old Town Festival takes place at the beginning of autumn (on the first week of September). The representatives of the Cultural Center of the Municipality of Xanthi described the features of the organisation and functioning of the ‘Old Town Festival’ and the Carnival of Xanthi which activated every year the cultural and carnival clubs of the city and contributes well to the development of the area and attracts all the year round thousands of visitors, including a significant number of elderly people -there are approximately 250-300 000 visitors each year. The festival programme is rich: concerts of famous and local artists, theatrical plays, art and photography exhibitions, book fairs as well as parallel events excite different kind of interests. Besides the programme, the festival also offers gastronomically valuable local food for visitors. The festival attracts a variety of age groups, senior tourists are also targeted as Xanthi’s Old Town is an enchanting scene that could be described as an “outdoor museum” with traditional, colourful mansions and beautiful paved streets that remained untouched through the years and the sights and events are close to each other that makes all these easily accessible for elder people as well. Additionally the festival and the town is effortlessly accessible for seniors.

Further information on the Municipality of Xanthi:


The Women Cooperative of Kokkinogia is an association of women to maintain traditions. It was founded in 1998, with the financial support of a LEADER fund (a food laboratory was built from the subsidy). Participants of the cooperative prepare traditional local food products with recipes from their own grandmothers. Their main profile is the production of homemade pastas, pates, jams, liquors, sweets.

Kokkinogia, where the Women Cooperative is operating, is a rarely known small village, but lies in a beautiful natural environment (with natural caves, and sky slopes nearby). Their products however are quite well-known in Greece by now, and they even have some export activities.  The number of employees working daily is just 8, the oldest employee is 65 years old, and the youngest is 32. Amongst the employees there is a need to employ women who are familiar with chemistry, and can fulfil the tasks related to food security. More and more young women are interested in the production of traditional food products and therefore interested in the activities of the cooperative. Local people approvingly evaluate the food produced by the cooperative because they know the safe ingredients as well as the process food products are being produced. Nowadays women cooperative has an extremely profitable business that can come across many imitators. The Cooperative is mainly visited by elderly people seeking the cultural roots of the area through gastronomy.

Further information on the good practice:


Krinides Mud Baths are operated by the Public Benefit Organization of the Municipality of Kavala. It is considered as a good practice as it is a high quality and unique service - it has a significant location and it is linked to municipal administration and also to local community. Natural mud baths have all the therapeutic characteristics for diseases that often discomfort elderly people. The mud baths offer all the necessary means of accessibility, safety and security for the elderly and combines this activity with cultural sightseeing since it is located near the Baptistery of Lydia (where Apostle Paul baptised the first European), the Museum and the ancient Theater of Philippi. Last year mud baths visited around 70 000 visitors. The target for 2020 is to create a health and mineral centre that meets the obligations of sustainable tourism. 

Further information on the good practice:


Authors: Vasilis Lepidas, Region of East Macedonia & Thrace (Greece) and Zoltan Balogh, Észak-Alföld Regional Development Agency (Hungary)