Since we are towards the last days of the year, each of us in making an account of the things done, and all of us make a collective account of the things done in Leros. In an effort to judge objectively the tourism industry in Leros Island for 2016, we had a small discussion with the Mayor of Leros, Mr. Michalis Kolias, for tourism and for the New Year’s prospects.
Since we are towards the last days of 2016, was it a good year for Leros according to your opinion?
Despite the big problems that the world is facing i.e. humanitarian crisis, economic crisis as well as the coup in Turkey, I believe that 2016 was in general a good year for the island.
By doing your own account, in what kind of actions the Municipality of Leros has been involved in order to attract tourists and achieve growth in tourism industry? Do you think that these actions were successful or not?
From the first day of our office term, we tried to put in effect a policy of growth for Leros. Growth in relation to tourism industry was a one way for us with actions in relation to infrastructure such as upgrading the ports, the protection of sea and land boarders in order to avoid any illegal developments and we also achieved the development of desalination plants in order to solve the issues in relation to water. Additionally, we participated in tourism expos and we promoted our island by using the internet. During our term we were also proud to establish events such as the Bodrum Cup and also achieve to establish a Schengen entrance. It is important to mention, in order to be realists that all these actions had to be done a long time ago. Unfortunately, we were not having a proper plan for the future and we were late. For all the aforementioned actions it is necessary to have the participation of all competent authorities.
Are there any positive predictions for the New Year according to your opinion?
The predictions seem to be positive; however we have to take into consideration the economic crisis and the political developments in neighboring Turkey. Finally, we also need to work on the help we need from the government in order to achieve better transportation from and to Leros.
If I ask you to describe the island of Leros with just 3 words, what will you choose to say and why?
Firstly, I choose the word beauty because the island has a unique natural and unspoiled beauty and this is the reason that a lot of people come to Leros for a lot of times. Secondly, I choose the word peaceful. The island is away from mass tourism and offers peaceful vacations to all. Finally, I choose renewal because here one can find himself and start your life again simply because of the beauty and the peacefulness.
Based on your opinion, which are the weaknesses of the island? Are there any possibilities for improvements?
The major problem of Leros I think that is transportation and the really high prices. Leros is an island away from Athens and transportation from and to Leros is really timewasting, expensive and not daily. From our point, we put pressure to competent authorities in order to achieve daily routes especially during summer season and also we make a lot of efforts in relation to prices.
How would you characterize the level of tourism services offered in Leros?
The tourist services offered in Leros are adequate; however there are always possibilities for improvement in quality, in our behavior as well as in prices especially in some certain group of professionals.
How would you characterize the level of young employees in Leros?
The job market nowadays, in public and private sector, is limited and difficult to be accessed. Therefore, more skills and knowledge are needed such as foreign languages and computers knowledge. In addition young employees need willingness and responsibility. As Leros Municipality we are trying to encourage young people as much as we can, especially the unemployed ones in order to participate in seminars and actions through the program of “Life-long learning” which I believe we will be able to start again during the first months of the New Year. As Leros Municipality we are always trying to do the best and I think that is obvious.
What message do you want to pass to the people and what are your wishes for the New Year?
I wish, above all, health to all people in Leros and to our people leaving or working abroad. The New Year I wish to be a new beginning of a creative period for our country, for our Island and to each of us personally.