Ioannina, the capital of the Epirus Region in Greece, has been a burgeoning hot spot for tourism in recent years, especially from Israel. Much of this can be credited to the late Mayor, Moses Elisaf, whose relentless efforts have significantly increased the city’s visibility on the global tourism map.

The Historic Influx of Israeli Travellers

Israelis, a significant chunk of the tourists, have been increasingly visiting the city, contributing to its burgeoning tourism industry. In 2022 alone, an astonishing 489,522 Israelis visited Greece, a considerable number given the country’s total population of 10 million.

Israeli tourists topped the list in Thessaloniki, while Ioannina and the entire Epirus Region also saw a notable influx. An emblematic example can be seen with the Cave of Perama, which recorded that 50% of its foreign visitors in October 2022 were from Israel.

Ali Pasha and Revolutionary Period Museum in Ioannina

Ali Pasha and Revolutionary Period Museum in Ioannina

The Allure of Ioannina: Romaniote Roots and the Magnificent Mountains

There’s considerable interest among Israelis in the vibrant history of Ioannina, especially its flourishing Romaniotes community. However, the captivating charm doesn’t stop there. The mountainous terrains of the Ioannina prefecture provide an exotic contrast to the flat landscapes of Israel, thus proving to be a significant draw for Israeli tourists.

Ioannina’s versatile attractions accommodate visitors of all ages, with outdoor activities like rafting and hiking being some of the major attractions. As explained by Thodoris Vantolas, a seasoned hotelier in central Zagori, “80% of our Israeli guests arrive by road from Thessaloniki. They are primarily families with children.”

Hoteliers in Ioannina, like the president of the Association of Hoteliers, Mr. Spyros Surelis, express their satisfaction with the consistent presence of Israeli visitors. “The Israeli visitor footprint has remained stable for ten years, both in the city hotels and the wider region,” he confirms.

Stone bridge on Vikos canyon, Zagorochoria

Stone bridge on Vikos Canyon, Zagorochoria – Photo by Miltiadis Fragkidis

The Determined Vision of the Late Mayor, Moses Elisaf

The efforts of the late Mayor, Moses Elisaf, have been instrumental in bringing Ioannina to the forefront. Mr. George Lolis, the Deputy Mayor of Tourism, sheds light on this, stating that their goal was to enhance the city’s extroversion and interconnections with other locales.

The Greek delegation, led by the Mayor, took part in the International Tourism Exhibition IMTM in Tel Aviv, meeting the mayor of Tel Aviv, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Tourism, tour operators, and low-cost airlines. Despite challenges posed by the global pandemic, Mayor Elisaf remained steadfast in his pursuit of establishing a connection to Tel Aviv, alongside Cyprus and Germany.

The late Mayor of Ioannina Moses Elisaf

The late Mayor of Ioannina, Moses Elisaf

The ‘i24 News TV Channel’ Documentary: Amplifying Ioannina’s Visibility

A crucial aspect that skyrocketed Ioannina’s visibility was the documentary produced by the ‘i24 news TV channel’. The documentary, broadcasting in multiple languages, targeted a vast Jewish audience in the US, boosting Ioannina’s recognition globally. A digital campaign to further endorse Ioannina in Israel will run until June’s end.

The Sustenance of the Tel Aviv-Ioannina Connection

The late Mayor Moses Elisaf’s dream became a reality by establishing the direct Tel Aviv-Ioannina flight connection, announced by the Greek airline Aegean. However, the continuity of this connection requires a collective effort, as expressed by Deputy Mayor Lolis, who urges all institutions and citizens to maintain the momentum. “Now that the road has been opened let us all help it remain open.”

From enhancing tourism inflow to establishing strategic connections and global visibility, the city of Ioannina and the entire Epirus Region has made great strides. The legacy left behind by the late Mayor Moses Elisaf continues to inspire, marking Ioannina as a new gem waiting to be discovered.


Source: “Ήρθα εδώ για να αφήσω πετραδάκια στον τάφο του δημάρχου.” Η Καθημερινή. Retrieved from…/