Rethymno: Introducing a Case Study Tourism Product

April 30, 2018

Last week we had the pleasure of interviewing one of Crete island’s most proactive officials, Rethymno Vice-Mayor for Tourism & Culture, Pepi Birliraki-Mamalaki. With the Summer season right around the corner, Crete’s cities big and small are a-buzz in preparation for what experts say will be a tsunami of tourists. Our own efforts in reporting Crete’s unique tourism product have fortunately led us to intersect the best the island has to offer, and Rethymno is a perfect example. Our discussion touched on such topics as sustainability, alternative tourism, team building, and decisionmaking by expert-committee. Here are some highlights and thoughts about Rethymno, Crete and a proactive approach to next level tourism products.

By way of background, Crete is an island paradise which is a world within a kind of walled garden. The people here are a large family, as it were. The places, culture, and atmosphere of the island are truly unique. And the central Crete coastal city of Rethymno is an integral part of what could be described as a region that “bonds” East and West Crete together. At least this geographically valid description of the central stretch of land of Rethymno Prefecture, in between Rethymno on the Cretan Sea, to Agia Galini on the Libyan Sea. As for the city, it was originally built during the Minoan civilization (Rhithymna and Arsinoe), an important maritime and cultural center that eventually minted its own coinage. The crest of the town today bears witness to this time in the symbol of two dolphins in a circle, which was depicted on one of these ancient artifacts. But my purpose here is not to discuss the age-old history and culture of Rethymno. I only add these points of context so that the reader can more easily understand the special character of a place with so many extraordinary towns and villages. In my talk with the city’s guru of tourism and culture, I had many questions revolving around “best practices” for Crete towns branding and marketing themselves properly. But I was also interested to learn about future potential, and how Crete overall might learn from the Rethymno project.

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