Tourism is a major driver of economic growth in Greece. Therefore, great attention and effort are required to offer quality services to visitors/tourists who should feel safe and relaxed when visiting tourist areas. A positive experience for tourists begins with the features of the site they visit, whether it is archaeological, cultural, environmentally unique, recreational, etc. However, they must also feel that adequate attention is paid to them and their well-being. Such attention includes receiving reliable information regarding the features of the site they are interested in as well as feeling safe. The importance of safety for tourism can be substantiated easily by looking at the speed with which tourist destinations change as the result of emerging threats; a frequent phenomenon in recent years. A case in point is the internationally negative tourism promotion of Greece in 2007, when the archaeological site of Olympia was gravely damaged by the severe August fires.
The proposed XENIOS project aims at developing services for the short-, medium- and long-term forecast of extreme natural events and natural disasters in areas of particular tourist and cultural interest, which are also vulnerable to natural hazards. This way, it contributes to more effective management of these risks. In addition, the project aspires to enhance safety and improve the tourism product at these sites, through a mobile app which will offer visitors prompt and reliable information. XENIOS will propose solutions for: i) providing comprehensive information to the competent site management bodies on time, and ii) supporting these bodies for issues related to managing the means and methods to protect both the visitors and the surrounding area from natural events and disasters.
Depending on the nature of the information, forecasts will be available in the form of clear maps, alerts or brief reports, through an online application and mobile app, which will be designed for this purpose according to user needs. The proposed combined platform that will host these services will function interactively throughout the risk management levels, from the local (cultural/tourist site) to the regional and national ones, by exchanging informational material, and real-time status reports and updates. To develop these services, selected satellite and meteorological data as well as field and aerial data, will be processed and analysed accordingly, in order to support the predictions in different spatial and temporal scales. The collaborating research and business bodies possess the required experience and know-how to ensure both timely planning as well as sound implementation of the services and final platform. Finally, all conditions for the commercial exploitation of the end results will be examined and studied in detail by drawing up a comprehensive business plan.