After many years, a private initiative in cooperation with Helexpo S.A. is trying to reinforce Thessaloniki’s position as a tourist destination. Thessaloniki has been, for years, almost fictitious as far as tourism is concerned. After the latest attempts to boost the touristic character of the city, an increase in tourism has been observed, but the level of consumption has remained low since little attention is paid to local products. What the city offers is a beautiful waterfront, castles, museums, the White Tower, the byzantine churches, a relaxed spirit and of course, tasty food. Great cafes and the awesome sweets are often highlights for visitors to the city.
The attempts made to attract tourists should focus on the creation of new sights (in the city or in a wider referenced area), and on the creation of a “brand” for the local products that will boost local production and, as a result, the market. One of the professions that supports the local community, and still offers job positions to a lot of people is within the pastry industry. In comparison to other artisanal jobs, pastry has presented fewer losses due to the economic crisis.
This economic crunch has benefited the consumer, since services and quality have improved, while the price is kept down and in many cases has even gone down. Visitors appreciate the local confectioneries, and they tend to buy their sweets at the airport, and the train and bus stations, just minutes before they leave the city. Almost everyone has a friend that lives in another city always requests a small gift from Thessaloniki’s patisseries, so Thessaloniki is quite right to be considered the unofficial “City of Sweets.” In connection with a chocolate factory that will be created, there is an opportunity that Thessaloniki will now, officially, receive the title of “City of Sweets."
After many meetings with Helexpo’s management and the company that is organizing the chocolate factory, people in the pastry industry have had the opportunity to engage in this project that, as it seems, will definitely become an attraction for every foreign person who visits the city. This project will be launched during an event put on by Helexpo with live shows held by the Hellenic Pastry Chef Club. At the same time, at the museum, members of the Club, along with awarded pastry chefs will offer several chocolate sculptures that will be created for this occasion. There will be also paintings made of chocolate and other chocolate works of art.
The factory will have a library about chocolate, photos that are related to chocolate, photos taken from cacao tree cultivation and cacao seeds, and other exhibits associated with chocolate. The project promoters have also requested the School of Fine Arts’ help, in order to create works of art interrelated with chocolate and other activities for both children and adults. The challenge is that this project won’t be restricted to Helexpo, but that this innovative operation will become an activity for the whole city.
Thessaloniki’s pastry shopkeepers came to an agreement with the chocolate museum to give visitors the chance to use their tickets from Helexpo’s event in order to buy sweets from any contacted confectionery. Additionally, an informational brochure will be distributed that will include all the contracted shops. Four major Greek food companies will support this effort as donors so that there will be a double endorsement toward Greek productions. In accordance with the success and the attendance of this project (which is expected to be very high), other activities will take place in order to keep the interest of tourists high, and to assure that there will be an extension of the project for more than six months. This action will be supported in many ways and people will be informed about it through a variety of promotions at the airport, the port, the train and bus stations and in other central spots of the city.
Maybe creativity, good mood and the cooperation of institutions and private will bring the “spring” that we all are waiting for. No more doom and gloom. Trades of the 80’s have to be replaced with other professions that will resurrect the city and take her towards the future.
Are there any similar projects taking place in the city you live? Do visitors enjoy participating?
Original article, originally published in Greek, here.
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.