The Municipality of Istiaia–Edipsos and the Loutra Edipsos Hotel Association have joined forces to re-introduce the area of Edipsos and the wider area of Northern Evia to the Greeks and to European travelers.
Renowned for its thermal springs, Edipsos is considered an ideal destination for visitors in search for relaxation and wellness tourism. However, according to the president of the Loutra Edipsos Hotel Association, Thodoris Roumeliotis, the area is much more than a wellness haven for senior tourists and has many other alternative forms of tourism and value for money services that travelers are not aware of.
“Basically we are calling on the whole world to become part of our renaissance,” Roumeliotis told journalists during a recent media event and underlined that following the wildfires of 2021, Northern Evia is in dire need of a tourism boost.
Referring specifically to the area of Edipsos, Roumeliotis said that the time has for the destination’s tourism product to be taken to the next level.
“Yes, we are branded as a spa & wellness tourism destination and it is our main product, but we also have more to show,” Roumaliotis said, explaining that Edipsos wants to also develop its agritourism and religious tourism offerings.
“How I see it, a visitor may come and visit our city, enjoy all that nature has to offer and combine the wellness segment with a trekking experience on our paths or a visit to our winery, cheese factory or olive mill,” he said.
“These forms of tourism were already here but unfortunately we took for granted that we attracted visitors due to our thermal waters and until 2019 our tourism was on ‘autopilot mode’… But now after last year’s disaster we must look further… This period is our only opportunity to change and if we do not make the effort now, we’ll never change,” he said.
Roumeliotis informed that the municipality of Edipsos and the area’s hotel association is in constant communication with the Tourism Ministry and the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) with regard to promoting the destination.
“During the summer we will hold a conference, with the support of the Region of Central Greece and the Tourism Ministry, focused on developing the alternative tourism side of Northern Evia,” he said.
On his part, Mayor of Istiaia-Edipsos Ioannis Kontzias said that the Municipality of Istiaia – Edipsos has a unique geomorphological heritage and a rich cultural/historical background that are sure to be of interest to travelers.
“The multiple forms of tourism that develop in the area will satisfy all visitors. Istiaia – Edipsos is a place that can and wants to attract travelers all year round. Having as a main point of reference that it is the first city of thermalism and wellness in Greece and the world, Edipsos also has cultural routes, the trekking routes of Mount Telethrio and many kilometers of coastline,” Mayor Kontzias said, adding that the municipality is focusing on promoting Istiaia-Edipsos as the ideal tourist, sports, cultural-historical alternative tourism destination.
The Region of Central Greece is expected to soon run a tourism campaign to introduce all that Northern Evia has to offer, Roumeliotis informed.
Named “Northern Evia, Become part of our experiences” the campaign will target young travelers and families in both domestic and international markets.
Edipsos already is a popular destination for travelers from Romania and Serbia. However, Roumeliotis said that efforts are being made to attract Polish and Israeli travelers.
“We are also in discussions with the GNTO to open to the Swedish market as travelers from Sweden are interested in spa and wellness tourism and also travel during the off season,” he informed.
Regarding domestic tourists, Edipsos’ Greek visitors come mainly from the regions of Thessaly, Central Greece and Central Macedonia.
“We are aiming to open to the market of Athens and the Peloponnese,” Roumeliotis said, adding that if Edipsos manages to develop its alternative tourism products, travel agencies based in the Greek capital would be willing to create and sell multi-day travel packages for the destination.
2022 season: 80% occupancy expected
The outlook for this year’s tourism season in Edipsos seems positive, according to Roumeliotis, as bookings began to rise after May 20.
“We expect this year’s occupancy to reach some 80 percent of 2019 levels,” Roumeliotis said.
He added that many Greeks are expected to come to Edipsos this season through the various social tourism programs that offer subsidized holidays for domestic travelers.
Vacation pass scheme launches for Northern Evia
Moreover, the Northern Evia Pass scheme, which was announced in support of the area due to the affect of the wildfires, is also expected to attract visitors to Edipsos and other destinations of Northern Evia. The scheme, which will also launch for the island of Samos, includes the distribution of a special digital “pass” to people that want to holiday in Northern Evia this year. Each “pass” (which will be in the form of a debit card) will have a balance of 150 euros and can be used to cover expenses for anything in Northern Evia, including accommodation, dining and transportation.
“Through these domestic tourism schemes we will welcome many Greeks this year but it will be up to us for these travelers to become repeat visitors and choose the destination again next year,” Roumeliotis said.
Edipsos is home to over 100 hotels (15 are open all year round), classified into 2-5 star categories, with a capacity of some 12,000 beds. When including the area’s rooms to let, bed capacity adds up to over 20,000.
Roumeliotis also informed that important events are taking place in Edipsos this summer, such as the Evia Film Project and The Authentic Marathon Swim in Pefki.
An initiative of the organizers of the Thessaloniki Film Festival, the Evia Film Project is a 5-day celebration of cinema taking place in Northern Evia. The event will take place from June 15 to June 19 in Edipsos, Limni and Agia Anna and include screenings, green actions, open discussions, workshops for children and students and a big concert. Evia Film Project’s events will be held with a free admission for the public.
According to Roumeliotis, the Evia Film Project is expected to attract some 600 visitors during the five days of the event.
Moreover, he said that The Authentic Marathon Swim, a sports tourism event that revives an authentic marathon swimming route, 2,500 years after it was first accomplished, is also expected to attract an important number of visitors.
Co-organized by the Municipality of Istiaia–Edipsos and ActiveMedia Group, the event will take place for the third time in Pefki during July 1-3 and revive the original swimming route that the ancient athletes Skyllias and Hydna followed during the historic naval battle of Artemision in 480 B.C.
How to get to Edipsos from Athens
To get to Edipsos from Athens by car, the easiest option for travelers is to take the Athens to Lamia highway to the village of Arkitsa (around one hour and a half drive) and take a 45-minute ferry ride (the Arkitsa-Edipsos connection is all year round/itineraries reach six per day depending on the season.
An alternative route is via the same highway (Athens to Lamia) to Halkida and then drive North (trip is around two and a half hours).
KTEL buses from Athens leave daily from the Liosion Bus Depot to to Edipsos (there is more than one depot in Athens). Depending on the season, buses for Edipsos leave between three and five times a day.