SPATIAL PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT IN TOURIST DESTINATIONS: A SURVEY IN A GREEK SPA TOWN
Free (open access)
Volume 6 (2011), Issue 1
34 - 48
M. PAPAGEORGIOU & E. BERIATOS
Thermalism – now known as spa tourism – is an age-old activity in Greece, with a long and rich tradition. Through the millennia, Greece has not only managed to maintain the activity of thermalism intact, but has developed it even further, particularly in more recent times (especially since the beginning of the 19th century).Until the middle of the 20th century, Greece invested in quite a high number of spa facilities at various hot springs located throughout the country. Both domestic and foreign visitors were offered a very satisfactory level of spa services – mainly of a therapeutic nature – for a long period of time in the recent past. However, as perceptions concerning thermalism began to change at the end of the 20th century, new, more ‘modern’ facilities, exclusively dedicated to offering luxury services for health and well-being began to ‘pop up’ in the same areas, next to the ‘classic’ type of therapeutic spa facilities. It is certain that however much contemporary trends may force spa tourism to swing toward providing increasingly less therapeutic services, the relegation or supersession of the ‘classic’ type of facilities and services in the end will not constitute a solution, especially for local communities and the development of those areas.The present article is the result of extensive field research (the completion of questionnaires) conducted by the authors in the spa town of Kamena Vourla (the second-most important spa town in Greece). It is within the framework outlined above that the article attempts to sketch the various characteristics/profiles of visitors to ‘modern’ and ‘classic’ style facilities. The ultimate aim of this research is to suggest that the new type of facili-ties and their ‘tourists’ do not constitute a one-way street for the local development of hot springs areas; rather, on the contrary, they may indeed pose a trap if not broadened and suitably combined with the ‘classic’ type of therapeutic facilities already in place. Finally, based on the conclusions drawn from the research conducted, the article attempts to determine a suitable form of organization that may prove advantageous to spa tourism des-tinations. It is hoped that this type of organization might help these areas experience viable economic, social, environmental and other development, as viewed within the context of contemporary perceptions and trends.
classic and modern spa tourists, spa tourism, spa towns, spatial planning and development.