Destination Management: Case Study On Kavala, Greece Case Study

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Introduction of Destination Management: Case Study On Kavala, Greece Case Study

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Tourism as an academic course of enquiry has mostly been treated as a unilinear field of enquiry with focus only on the aspect of the generic tourism sector, with very little focus on the religious tourism, which is attractive owing to its complexity and the prosperous prospect it has in terms of generating lucrative business opportunities. Unfortunately, it has largely been ignored, and this particular research prospect shall be addressing that lacuna.

Critical evaluation of the relevance of the topic to the case study

 The chosen topic for deliberation in this particular report has been Destination Management, with a specific focus on Kavala, a region in Greece on the Mediterranean coast blessed abundantly with a plethora of Christian shrines. Tourism is a multifaceted issue which can be either of purely corporate importance meant for profit maximisation, which accounts for the maximum share of tourism, and on the other hand, there is religious tourism. There is plenty of research and debates on the former, with very little input on the latter. Hence this research shall light on religious tourism with specific reference to Kavala (Nyaupane et al., 2018).

Explanation of the rationale of the choice

The rationale behind choosing the case study of Kavala is not just limited to filling the gap in the existing literature on tourism. Instead, it seeks to address the issues which religious tourism faces, from the perspective of management and also from the standpoint of decision and policy deliberation. The case study of Kavala has been chosen because of the presence of a rich cultural heritage and architecture of the religious pilgrimage sites, which has the potential to attract a vast number of tourists. However, due to mismanagement and a lack of efficient decision-making process, the religious tourism sector is suffering a decline in Kavala, which makes it an important topic worth discussing (Olsen et al., 2018).

Identification of two major issues regarding the management of the case study: Application of the relevant theoretical model(s) to the chosen case study

Kavala, Greece, is a popular pilgrimage location for religious tourists; hence it is seen as a tourist attraction. In addition to the many Christian shrines, there are also several Muslim shrines in Kavala. Kavala, although having a vibrant religious population, beautiful shrines, and a long history of pilgrimage, has struggled to become a major pilgrimage destination because of two critical difficulties. Christian shrines dominate Islamic ones in terms of the number of pilgrimage locations; thus, the problems at hand will be examined from that viewpoint. Stakeholder management also includes a well-defined structural arrangement of stakeholders, which includes the religious authority and the administrative authority (Pechlaner et al., 2018).

There is a conflict of interest between the many parties that prevents the possibility of commencing a comprehensive governance process. The number of stakeholders is enormous, and they may be split into two basic categories, the private and the public, which is spread throughout the three levels of government, the local, regional, and national. There, the Greek Orthodox Church holds supreme authority over the metropolitan regions of Philippi, Neapolis, and Thassos at the regional level in this respect. The regional level is then delegated to the Municipality of Kavala by the Greek Ministry of Culture, which is followed by the national level. The local non-profit Dimophelia has the least influence on pilgrimage activities since it is a public benefit organisation (Pechlaner et al., 2018). Discrepancies in power allocation across local, regional and national decision-making organisations indicate a lack of cooperation amongst stakeholders. Destination Management Organization (DMO) guidelines say that entities with the greatest potential to boost religious tourism opportunities have less clout. An agency that promotes tourism for Haemophilia's benefit has no defined function in the decision-making process. Marketing and research capabilities have been severely hindered, and at the same time, very few services have been produced to meet the demands of pilgrims. As a result, destination management in Kavala for religious tourism is being hampered by a lack of coordination among the many parties involved (Olsen et al., 2018).

 The Kavala Tourism Framework explains the system of stakeholder engagement in the decision-making process

Source: (Mylonopoulos et al., 2018)

The second issue affecting the religious pilgrimage in Kavala region is due to the problem of leadership. It has its basis in the point discussed previously, regarding the lack of coordination between the stakeholders, hampering destination management as a whole pilgrimage or religious tourism in Kavala. The problem is rooted in the hierarchical setting of decision making, which is wrought with the problem of lack of powers at the hands of the agencies at all levels of governance which could have managed to provide better services had they had enough decision-making powers. The main problem is that the religious tourism in Kavala is highly dependent upon the decisions of the Greek Orthodox Church, concerning the metropolitan region of Philippi, Neapolis and Thassos at the regional level (Mylonopoulos et al., 2018). Their decision-making power in matters of pilgrimage is almost absolute, and even the Central Governing Authorities cannot exercise authority over them. There is a prevalent attitude concerning religious tourism in the Kavala region is that nobody says no to the decisions of the church, which is a metaphorical representation of the situation prevailing in Kavala. The domain of the church being concerned with spirituality is very naturally out of touch from the realities of the practical world as far as tourism as a business activity is concerned. Their dominance in this regard is creating problems in augmenting the prospects of tourism in Kavala which has a rich heritage of age-old religious shrines, which not just holds a spiritual importance, but are also culturally and architecturally extremely vital forms of treasure (Nyaupane et al., 2018).

Having explained the issues that jeopardise the prospects of religious tourism in Kavala, the matter shall now be related to the theoretical aspect of Destination Development Framework.

 Destination Development Framework

Source: Nyaupane et al.,2015

The theoretical framework divides tourism into two broad categories: the type of destination, the corporate type, and the community-based system. The corporate type is purely based on capitalistic ventures that seek to thrive on garnering more tourists and gain more profits out of it. The latter is the community type, which is related to heritage sites that have a cultural and historical importance. The case of Kavala based religious tourism falls under this category. Based on this framework, it can be said that given the nature and the extent of religious sites, there are several characteristics which can be deduced from the case study of Kavala (Nickerson et al., 2018).

- There must be a presence of certain key actors who ought to be responsible to attract the tourists or the pilgrims, and the role of the church and the state in this regard is vital as the most critical stakeholders in the entire system. However, in the case of Kavala, these stakeholders are not having enough power to attract pilgrims given the fact that the Church and the State are not functioning in tandem with each other, which is jeopardising the prospects of religious tourism in Kavala. This is an issue of destination management as the key actors govern the tourism business prospects (Mylonopoulos et al., 2018).

- The multiplicity of stakeholders has also been witnessed with regard to religious tourism in the Kavala region, at various levels, and they work in coordination with each other to ensure that more pilgrims are attracted. However, instead of a close coordination and cooperation, the Church is the dominant force and its decisions reign final which is jeopardising the prospects of religious tourism in Kavala (McKercher 2016).

- The political and the organisational setting ought to form policies and arrives at decisions to enhance the quality of religious tourism in Kavala, however this too has witnessed jeopardising effect. It is owing to the fact that the decision-making power of the political and the administrative setting is being dominated by the role played by the church (Margry 2015).

Thus, the issue of discrepancy in power-sharing between the stakeholders is a serious issue which is jeopardising the prospects of religious tourism in Kavala.

Recommendations for solutions

The institutions in Kavala's tourism framework were found to be incapable of defining a precise leadership structure, jointly developing a strategic development plan, or adopting a continuous and comprehensive management approach to put the strategy into action after conducting a stakeholder analysis on the DMO issue. In the study's conclusions, this is due to the fact that tourism organisations have diverse aims and hierarchies within the framework of the tourist industry. Furthermore, it is possible that the deficiencies in Kavala are caused in part by the unique characteristics of Greek organisational culture. Leadership, governance, and management are three components of the destination development cycle that will be discussed in further detail in the following paragraphs (McKercher 2016).

It is argued that the example of Kavala is representative of other Greek communities hoping to boost cultural or pilgrimage tourism but who are confronted with complex institutional networks, with national authorities controlling local monuments. An example of how to overcome management and development limits might serve as a model for other regions facing similar challenges. The mayor of Kavala may start a trial initiative with the help of authorities from the Ministry of Culture and the local Metropolitan to see whether this problem can be solved. To conserve Greece's cultural legacy via the promotion of cultural and pilgrimage tourism, the charter of this pilot project states that Kavala will serve as a model city. The findings might be transferred to other parts of Greece in the same geographic area with just minimal alterations.

The public sector, according to Sainaghi and Baggio (2017), supports the tourism industry since it creates jobs and contributes to the social and economic development of the nation. Municipal governments (at the local level), national governments (at the national level), and the European Union (at the EU level) are all examples of public sector entities that may make tourism-related investments (supranational level). Tourist demand increases as a result of increased public investment, and the tourism sector expands as a result. Both existing and new resources may be used to increase a destination's productivity, according to Nawaz and Hassan (2016), public capital investment. In addition, governments aid in the expansion of tourism by "providing a competent transportation infrastructure, sponsoring arts and crafts, conserving historical places, and developing museum facilities". There are a number of public-sector contributions to tourism expansion, including encouraging private investment in hotel construction, maintaining quality standards and providing security for tourists. Last but not least, public funds should go toward advancing local interests, enhancing the quality of life, enhancing the city's image, and establishing cultural and leisure offerings for residents. The Ministry of Culture should support the programme for at least five years in order for it to succeed. Money from the Ministry of Culture would enable the project team to assume secondary roles and responsibilities, enabling them to work more successfully. To complete the research, develop an idea, stage the implementation, and evaluate the results within this timeframe is ideal. All local stakeholders should be brought together as part of the project's participatory governance approach to build an overall strategic vision via the use of a destination development cycle event.

The development process culminates in the establishment of an administration entrusted with implementing the shared strategic goal on behalf of all stakeholders (Pechlaner et al., 2012; Hristov & Zehrer, 2015). As of today, Haemophilia (the municipality's regional development agency) is Kavala's sole tourism stakeholder capable of theoretically fulfilling management responsibilities, according to the municipal government. If the management component is not entirely handled by the Ministry but rather by a joint venture between Dimophelia and an external management company, then objective long-term objectives may be set. Top-down collaboration between the Municipality, Ministry and the Church will help local stakeholders overcome hierarchical obstacles and work together to create a single vision as part of this strategy (Stylidis et al.,2017). The particular qualities of Kavala, which are likely to be replicated in other Greek cities, need a top-down approach to beginning a pilot project that will lead to sustainable destination management. The lack of leadership in Kavala might be attributed to a number of factors, including the fact that various organisations have different aims, the fact that work is scattered around the municipality, and the fact that stakeholders do not communicate on a regular basis (Stylidis and Terzidou, 2014). If the suggested solution is to be implemented in Kavala, Greece, there has to be a greater level of cooperation and strategic coherence. Kavala's mayor started a discussion on the city's increasing pilgrimage tourism in 2008; however, the city has yet to implement a participatory governance strategy. Even while other stakeholders want to see a more holistic approach to tourist development, the municipality is not able to perform its leadership position to the full extent.

In many circumstances, tourist firms have partnerships with one another that are both competitive and cooperative in nature. Wang and Krakover (2008) identify four types of cooperative relationships that can be incorporated into the Destination Management process to improve the stakeholder management in this case study-

1) Affiliation: The actors (4 stakeholders) maintain loose and informal connections as a result of their shared interests. They provide support to one another through the exchange of knowledge, endorsements, and the recommendation of others.

2) Coordination: The actors align their actions with support services or events, and they work together to complete common tasks.

3) Collaboration: The actors work together to put common strategies into action by joining forces.

4) Strategic networks: The actors work together to develop a shared vision and orientation in order to achieve their common goals. Because of their dependency, they are required to maintain mutual trust and commitment.


At the concluding section it must be said that the prospects of generating tourism in Kavala is quite huge. However in order to gain maximum amount of benefit out of tourism in Kavala, it is extremely necessary to ensure that the problems associated with it are taken care of so that the impediments are removed.


Margry, P.J., 2015. Imagining an end of the world: Histories and mythologies of the Santiago-Finisterre connection. In Heritage, Pilgrimage and the Camino to Finisterre (pp. 23-52). Springer, Cham.

McKercher, B., 2016. Towards a taxonomy of tourism products. Tourism Management54, pp.196-208.

Mylonopoulos, D., Moira, P. and Aivaliotou, E., 2011. Public tourism management. Case study of the Greek tourism office in Moscow. Tourism & Management Studies, (1), pp.180-190.

Nickerson, R.C., Greenia, G.D., McIntosh, I.S. and Quinn, E.M., 2018. What is Pilgrimage? A Report of the Panel at the 2017 Symposium on Pilgrimage Studies, William & Mary, October 7, 2017. International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage6(2), p.2.

Nyaupane, G.P., Timothy, D.J. and Poudel, S., 2015. Understanding tourists in religious destinations: A social distance perspective. Tourism Management48, pp.343-353.

Olsen, D.H., Trono, A. and Fidgeon, P.R., 2018. Pilgrimage trails and routes: the journey from the past to the present. Religious pilgrimage routes and trails: sustainable development and management, pp.1-13.

Pechlaner, H., Volgger, M. and Herntrei, M., 2012. Destination management organisations as interface between destination governance and corporate governance. Anatolia23(2), pp.151-168.

Stylidis, D. and Terzidou, M., 2014. Tourism and the economic crisis in Kavala, Greece. Annals of tourism research44, pp.210-226.

Stylidis, D., Sit, J. and Biran, A., 2016. An exploratory study of residents’ perception of place image: The case of Kavala. Journal of travel research55(5), pp.659-674.

Wang, Y. and Pizam, A. eds., 2011. Destination marketing and management: Theories and applications. Cabi.

Nawaz, M.A. and Hassan, S., 2016. Investment and Tourism: Insights from the literature. International Journal of Economic Perspectives10(4), pp.581-590.

Sainaghi, R. and Baggio, R., 2017. Complexity traits and dynamics of tourism destinations. Tourism Management63, pp.368-382.

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