Social tourism and Michalakis Goutos
It was during the 1950s and 1960s that Molyvos became an experimental centre for the implementation of a new model for development planning. This model was to place emphasis on qualitative characteristics such as maintaining and saving its architectural, environmental and cultural identity combined with mild tourist growth and quality services. The idea of “social tourism” was based on the vision of Mytilene’s own late sociologist Michalakis Goutos, was adopted by the two historic mayors of the town, Andreas Kyriakou and Kostas Doukas, and was heavily supported by the local society. For three decades, until the domination of mass tourism during the mid 1980s, Molyvos was an example of quality tourist development which was based on respect of built and natural environment, history, culture, human emotion and generous hospitality.
This period saw the establishment of new cultural institutions: The municipal library became public with an appointed librarian and a proper operational structure. The School of Fine Arts set up a regional branch and the “Stegi Eftalioti” in the Komninakis Krallis mansion. In addition, schools for local trades, handcrafted arts and Minor Asia embroidery showed considerable activity. Later, during the 1980s, more institutions were created such as the municipal gallery of Mythimna, a small archaeological museum, a youth centre with its own traditional dances group plus a school for stonemasonry with the co-operation of the National Job Centre (OAED). From the 1960s onwards, certain grounds in the castle of Molyvos were appropriately used to host the Vienna symphonic orchestra, the Rallou Manou Dance Theatre, the traditional dance troupe of Dora Stratou, the orchestra of Mikis Theodorakis and countless other concerts and plays. Molyvos became the favourite place of painters, intellectuals and cinephiles. This artistic life was also demonstrated in infamous revelries that used to take place in the suspended coffee shops (kafeneia) of Molyvos’ traditional market and Molyvos harbour.
Personalities of international caliber in the fields of literature, art, culture and journalism chose Molyvos as their holiday destination and some bought their summer retreats here: Yiagos Pesmatzoglou, Eleni Vlachou, Maria Rezan, Spiros Vasileiou, Pat Tomlinson, Sabilay Midi, Ingmar Bergmann, Ingrid Bergman, Pierre Dadinos, Rozalia Chladek, Titos Patrikios, Gerasimos Notaras, Kokoska, Nestor Matsas, Lili Zografou, Peter Brook and many others. Many films and TV series were filmed locally and it was during this time that people like the writer Ilias Venezis, the poet Titos Patrikios and songwriter Lefteris Papadopoulos acquired their houses in Molyvos.
Hospitality and promotion
“Delfinia” was the first hotel that was built in the early 1960s by the “Company of Social Development”. Architects such as Sfaelos, Milonas, Doxiadis, Pikionis, Gianoulellis served as architecture and artistic consultants during the construction of the hotel. Michalakis Goutos and his wife Argini Goutos placed all their business connections, personal affiliations and political powers in Greece and abroad in the service of developing Molyvos. An abundance of international publications in the American, European and Canadian press promoted Molyvos as a place of unique beauty and human grandeur. A place where the visitor enjoyed the generosity and the kindness of its people and the locals rented rooms in their own houses providing homelike hospitality.
In the following years, from the mid 1980s until today, Molyvos focused its main economic activity in the tourism industry, becoming a well known European and global destination. Today there are many luxurious hotels, pensions, studios and small apartments, restaurants and cafes, bars and clubs that host and serve thousands of visitors every year. In an ever changing tourism market, the creation of “Molyvos Tourism Association” traces back Molyvos’ development to the years of Michalakis Goutos’ “social tourism” and aims in an alternative tourist model based on sustainable growth and the exploit of its environmental and cultural advantages that remain untouched. Despite the mass character of tourism today, Molyvos is still a place of human warmth and hospitality. The criteria, the means and the founding structure of its tourist development are still the same. Molyvos is a place that stood the test of time and a unique destination, a place of “good tourist upbringing”.