Travel Safely to Loutraki Greece16 Jan 2021
With vaccinations being approved, finally, there seems to be some light at the end of this very long covid tunnel!
2020 has certainly been a challenging year for everyone, especially within the travel industry, but with such astounding developments in science, our industry is looking to kick-start again in the new year. The safety of our guests has always been paramount but none more-so following the covid pandemic.
We always work tirelessly with our facility providers and hoteliers and as such, thought that it would be great to share an interview providing an insight into what safety measures are put in place, and what travellers can expect when they return in 2021.
It gives us great pleasure to introduce you to Spiros Karavoulis who is the Managing Director of Sportcamp which is located in Loutraki, Greece. Sportcamp is one of the largest private youth sports training facility in Greece. Sportcamp is approximately 1 hour from Athens offering multi-sport training facilities with all accommodation on-site.
The Effect of Covid on the Greek Travel Industry
Sports Abroad: Thank you for taking this time to speak with us. I know that you are very busy as the Director of Sportcamp but also as President of the Organizing Committee for the World Company Games.Covid-19 has rocked the whole world in recent months but how do you feel Greece has managed the pandemic so far?
SPIROS KARAVOULIS: Ιndeed the Covid-19 pandemic is a global phenomenon which has greatly affected every country on earth. From the first moment, Greece took drastic measures when the percentage of positive incidence was very low. This established Greece as one of the safest destinations in the world to travel to. We’ve had two general lockdowns similar to the UK. The numbers are already improving so we anticipate a gradual shift in any restrictive measures.
SA: Greece is such a beautiful country but the pandemic must have had an impact on your tourism industry. Can you elaborate a bit more?
SK: Yes, Greece is a beautiful country and the Mediterranean climate during the summer has helped keep the Covid-19 levels low. Tourism, being one of our major sources of revenue has suffered significant losses and strong support from the state was provided to the industry.
We estimate that with the administration of the vaccine, people’s confidence and psychology will change and from the spring or summer of 2021, we will return to 50% of the 2020 arrivals. We anticipate full recovery to pre-covid levels by the end of 2022.
SA: You are the president of the local Loutraki Tourism Organization. How is the town coping with the pandemic and what measures does it have in place to welcome back international tourism?
SK: Loutraki has stood very well all this time against Covid-19. Citizens have reverently followed government instructions, as well as health protocols. Furthermore, it is very important to point out that the positive tests that have been found in Loutraki since the spring until now are not more than 10! The city is ready to welcome back international tourism!! Finally, Loutraki has actually benefited from internal tourism, as the town is one of the favourite destinations for Athenians – as it’s only a short distance away!
SA: As a sports facility provider with accommodation all on-site, what measures have you put in place at Sportcamp to ensure the safety of your visiting guests?
SK: We have followed all the health protocols and guidance provided by the Greek government. Indicatively, our staff and guests have complete relevant forms on arrival, measure their temperature, wear masks etc.
We strictly follow the precautionary health measures at all facilities (accommodation, training, dining, entertainment) placing the safety of our customers as a first priority. During 2020, we were allowed to operate for 4 months hosting more than 1,500 guests without having a single positive covid test.
SA: Our swimming facilities in the UK adhere to strict covid guidance set by Swim England. What protocols do your swimming facilities follow and what do they entail?
SK: All swimming pools in Greece follow the health protocols announced by the Greek Government. (Some measures are similar to the UK and others more strict). For example, up to 8 people are allowed per lane to the 50m pool and 6 for the 25m., locker rooms are used exclusively by the team that is in the pool and most importantly, they need a Covid-19 negative test to enter the swimming pool.
SA: We are sure that being the Managing Director of a sports training facility has many challenges, especially in 2020, but what do you enjoy the most about your job?
SK: During the first lockdown, it was a bit depressing to see SPORTCAMP empty during a period that was normally full of young athletes training and having fun!
Sportcamp is a leading company in Greece for youth sports camps, sports travel and sports events. The benefits to young athletes of sports camps are huge as they enjoy unique life experiences and personal development opportunities through playing sports and living as a group in a natural setting. When we were able to open again, I felt extremely pleased about having the privilege to offer young people to escape for some days from this harsh reality and enjoy sports and nature!
SA: We have visited Loutraki on a number of occasions and met your family, what have you and your family been doing to keep busy during the pandemic?
SK: We feel very lucky since we live in a seaside town with easy access to the beach, the mountains and nature giving us the opportunity for daily biking, jogging, trekking, swimming and water skiing! We also had access to Sportcamp’s facilities so we’re able to play squash, tennis, beach volleyball, soccer, basketball and working out at the gym! Luckily, we are a sporty family, but I also have to admit that sometimes we had to push a bit more to get my kids away from the screens…
SA: What are your plans at Sportcamp for 2021?
SK: We plan to commence our regular operation towards April-May with our different events as well as hosting sports and school groups from Greece and abroad. We keep our facilities at a good standard and prepare them for full operation from the beginning of the new year! We also keep quite busy our Marketing Department investing in our post – covid communication materials!
SA: Athens is a wonderful city to visit and as the President of the World Company Games Organising Committee, you must have been disappointed that the event couldn’t take place in 2020. What challenges have you faced and what can competitors expect when they arrive in 2021?
SK: Indeed, the Games would have been a major multi-sport event to take place in Athens since the 2004 Olympics and the 2011 Special Olympics. There will be over 6,000 participants competing in 28 sports and using the Olympic facilities! (just take a look – World Company Games )
Following the cancellation of this 2020 event, our initial challenge was to take care of all the logistics for 3,500 participants who had already registered by March 2020. Once the postponement for 2021 was decided, we’ve had to reschedule the whole event! The greatest satisfaction has been that less than 20% of the registered participants actually cancelled their places for next year.
They do have the option to re-register if they wish to. So, our aim is to offer our participants the greatest experience in Greece and to successfully implement one of the first (if not the first) large multi-sport events after the pandemic and prior to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics!
Final 5 Metres!
5 quick-fire questions that tell us a little more about you….. Ok, take your marks, get set, GO….
- What is your favourite holiday destination? Santorini island!
- What sports do you enjoy watching? Volleyball, Beach Volleyball, Tennis
- How long have you been in the travel industry? 30 years
- What did you do to relax? Travel and Sports
- How many languages do you speak? 3 Greek, English, French plus a few words in Russian!
Thank you, Spiros, for your insight and knowledge. It’s great to hear about the measures you have put in place to ensure the safety of guests returning to SPORTCAMP and we wish you all the very best for 2021.
For information about training camps in Loutraki please click here.