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More tacky tourism

- by Dabs Banner

Not satisfied with being one of the most popular holiday islands in Greece, hotel operators on Skiathos have launched heavy promotions in the UK and other European countries.

Consultants have been hired to promote holiday in Skiathos in target markets of the UK, Germany and Scandinavia this year.

In the pipeline are free trips for tour companies and journalists, stalls at travel shows, fashion shoots and deals for celebrity endorsements.

And it's not just the European market that are being targeted. Skiathos hoteliers are plan Easter package deals for the Greek market as well as radio advertising, online media offers and themed holiday packages.

You have to wonder why. Skiathos is already swamped with holidaymakers each year.

The island boasts some of the best sand beaches in the Greek islands, but most are now packed end-to-end with sunbeds.

The single road that links the beaches along the south coast is a virtual line of back-to-back hotels and tavernas, mostly owned and run by mainland Greeks.

What Greek character the island once had has been overwhelmed by cosmopolitan consumerism and many regard Skiathos as a prime example of a Greek island that went belly up to tacky tourism year ago.

Nevertheless, hotel owners are confident there is more money to be made from the ever growing tourists that stream from the island airport.

President of the Skiathos Hoteliers Union, Makis Koukoulakis said the aim is 'maximizing the visibility of Skiathos in established markets in order to extend the tourist season and open up to new markets.'

Skiathos did suffer problems this summer with many tourists cancelling holidays in the wake of capital controls and political turmoil in Athens.

The island's biggest tourism markets are the UK, Scandinavia and Italy with up to 70% of these being return visitors.

Skiathos has little to offer apart from the holiday staples of sunshine, sandy beaches and endless clubs and bars.

It is why it tends to favour the cheaper end of the holiday market with cut-price packages and all-inclusive hotel deals.

More discerning visitors tend to opt for the nearby islands of Skopelos and Alonissos and a more authentic Greek island holiday experience,