A new an­gle for tourism: A for Athens Riviera

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY NIKOS VATOPOU­LOS

The day will come when, asked about where they’re plan­ning to spend their va­ca­tions, Bri­tish, Ja­panese and Cana­dian hol­i­day­mak­ers might very well say, “The Athens Riviera.” What springs to mind is a coastal stretch from Faliro, south­ern Athens, to Cape Sounio, a lace­work strip of land bathed in light and as­so­ci­ated with the ex­cite­ment of sum­mer mem­o­ries.

What many Greeks con­sider to be the coun­try’s an­swer to Cal­i­for­nia – or at least a place as­so­ci­ated with youth­ful joy, where they danced, swam and day­dreamed – could de­velop into a ma­jor ad­van­tage for the Greek cap­i­tal and its place on the in­ter­na­tional map of com­pet­i­tive global tourism. Those not fa­mil­iar with Athens are of­ten sur­prised to hear that the south­ern sub­urb of Vou­liag­meni, for in­stance, is so near the Acrop­o­lis.

The area has a sto­ried his­tory dat­ing to the 1930s, a time when another south­ern Athe­nian sub­urb, Gly­fada, was al­ready show­ing off its first vil­las. The boom­ing 1955-65 pe­riod was a time when the mod­ern part of Athe­nian so­ci­ety con­gre­gated at the As­te­ria, the era’s hip live mu­sic/restau­rant/night­club, also lo­cated in Gly­fada. Be­sides, the essence of the term “cos­mopoli­tan” is in­trin­si­cally linked to rivieras around the world, whether in France, Italy, Croa­tia, Bri­tain or the United States, among oth­ers. Strips of land fit for leisure, show­cas­ing a high stan­dard of liv­ing and de­fined by their el­e­gant and high aes­thet­ics where sweet nostal­gia meets the dy­nam­ics of the fu­ture.

While the Athens Riviera boasts its own unique fea­tures, an in­tel­li­gi­ble, at­trac­tive coded pack­ag­ing could pro­vide the right frame­work for its pro­mo­tion. It’s a mat­ter of visual ver­nac­u­lar. This is the po­si­tion adopted by a team of Greek pro­fes­sion­als who came up with a highly de­tailed pro­posal for the de­vel­op­ment of a tourism prod­uct called the “Athens Riviera,” part of a strate­gic frame­work for pro­mot­ing the Greek cap­i­tal as an au­ton­o­mous travel des­ti­na­tion.

Com­pris­ing Michalis Ge­or­giou, Alexan­dros Gavri­lakis and Dim­itris Ste­fani­dis, the G De­sign Stu­dio spot­ted an op­por­tu­nity for Athens and, based on the company’s am­ple in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence, has come up with a well-bal­anced cor­po­rate iden­tity that in­cludes and sug­gests routes and ap­pli­ca­tions. With re­gard to the cam­paign’s mes­sage strat­egy, the team worked to­gether with com­mu­ni­ca­tion strate­gist Vi­vian Efthimiopoulou, an ex­pert in the field of po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural goods com­mu­ni­ca­tion, as well as the de­vel­op­ment of iden­tity, both cor­po­rate and for pri­vate par­ties.

“Our de­sign ap­proach is based on a com­pi­la­tion of all the in­di­vid­ual el­e­ments of the area we chose, fol­low­ing a de­tailed study of the coastal front and, of course, tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion dif­fer­ent in­ter­na­tional prac­tices in the field of des­ti­na­tion brand­ing, es­pe­cially in the cre­ation of a Riviera iden­tity,” said Ste­fani­dis.

What the team did was out­line, or­ga­nize, group to­gether and dis­tin­guish the dense el­e­ments of the Athens Riviera through the use of an at­trac­tive visual lan­guage and fresh iden­tity that high­lights the area’s emo­tional depth, nos­tal­gic aura, sen­sual dy­namic, con­tem­po­rary lan­guage, in­ter­na­tional flair and “lo­cal di­alect.”

“Through­out the en­tire process our main con­cern was for our ideas to be able to be eas­ily and swiftly im­ple­mented with­out the need for ar­chi­tec­tural, con­struc­tive or any other in­ter­ven­tion,” noted Ste­fani­dis.

In­deed, the pro­posal’s main ad­van­tage is its simplicity, prac­ti­cal spirit and el­e­gant lan­guage. It does not re­quire ma­jor fund­ing while at the same time it pro­vides an an­swer to the chal­lenge of the times, which is the cre­ation of syn­er­gies. The project’s core idea dis­tin­guishes be­tween the three struc­tural el­e­ments of the Athens Riviera brand: beaches, leisure and cul­ture, which co­ex­ist as a whole and as in­di­vid­ual units.

For the cam­paign, the G De­sign Stu­dio came up with a bright and in­tel­li­gi­ble sym­bol, A for Athens, from which the con­nect­ing iden­ti­ties of beaches, leisure and cul­ture em­anate. The de­sign team sug­gests that the A for Athens motto could be­come a visual ve­hi­cle on trams, buses and taxis, for in­stance, while in the prod­uct di­vi­sion the mantra could fig­ure on beach ac­ces­sories such as tow­els, for in­stance. With the ad­di­tion of gas­tron­omy, which would be all the syn­er­gies to­gether, the www.athen­sriv­iera.gr com­mu­ni­ca­tion plat­form could serve as a hub, both re­ceiver and emit­ter.

Fol­low­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions with Ikaros Edi­tions, the Athens State Orches­tra and the Acrop­o­lis Mu­seum, the G De­sign Stu­dio is now ven­tur­ing into tourism pro­mo­tion, one of the cap­i­tal’s top pri­or­i­ties.

“Our pro­posal for the Athens Riviera es­sen­tially re­caps ev­ery se­ri­ous dis­cus­sion re­gard­ing tourist de­vel­op­ment in the broader At­tica re­gion and the coastal strip that has taken place over the last few years,” noted Efthimiopoulou. “We have stud­ied the his­tory of the area’s tourism and con­struc­tion de­vel­op­ment, along with the strate­gies adopted by the Tourism Min­istry and the City of Athens, to­gether with projects such as that of the Niar­chos Foun­da­tion cur­rently in de­vel­op­ment at the Faliro Delta.”

An Athens Riviera com­pris­ing a sym­met­ric tri­an­gle ex­tend­ing to and in­clud­ing the Acrop­o­lis, Cape Sounio and the Tem­ple of Aphaia on the Sa­ronic is­land of Aegina, is a very nice thought. A rare trea­sure in­deed.

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