Blessed with rugged natural landscapes and surrounded by tiny islets, the island of Alonnisos, part of the Sporades group in the western Aegean, has won the Best Diving Destination award at the inaugural Greek Travel Awards in London. The event, organized by the UK office of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO-EOT), took place on Monday, November 7, at this year’s World Travel Market (WTM) London, one of the travel industry’s biggest exhibitions.
Seven UK tour operators communicated their vote to the GNTO, based on the feedback from clientele who have recently visited Greece.
The island proved most popular among Britons due to the excellent services provided by its dive centers, the wealth of underwater sites, and it being the location of Greece’s first underwater museum – the 5th century BC Peristera wreck.
Following years of bureaucratic wrangling, the Greek Parliament, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Culture’s Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, lifted blanket restrictions on scuba diving in Greece in 2005; a landmark move that opened up the country to the untapped wealth of international dive tourism.
Britons love Alonissos
Alonnisos’ reputation as a top diving destination has skyrocketed in recent years. Aside from the Peristera wreck and the wide variety of other sites on offer, it has also become renowned for hosting underwater weddings, organized by the local municipality.
Last Monday’s award ceremony in London was attended by a large number of journalists, travel industry professionals, and representatives of the Greek government and local government. The prize was awarded by the General Secretary of the GNTO-EOT, Dimitris Fragakis, and the Director of its UK Office, Eleni Skarvelis, to Mayor of Alonissos Petros Vafinis and the Deputy Regional Governor for Tourism of the Thessaly Region, Giannis Boutina.
Alonissos itself enjoyed a bumper tourist season this summer, with ship arrivals to the island up nearly nine percent on 2019’s record numbers for the May-August period. Tourism to the island has been greatly boosted by the increase number of scuba divers from around the world.