The South Aegean region of Greece plans to promote cultural tourism to its islands and extend the tourism season to the destination.

The area consists of the Cyclades and Dodecanese island groups, which include Rhodes, Mykonos and Kos.

Visiting the UK for World Travel Market, vice governor of the region Eleftheria Ftaklaki said: “We want to show that the South Aegean is not just about sun and sand.  We want to promote cultural tourism, gastronomy and rural holidays.”

At WTM, the region is launching a portal where clients can access information on each individual island including details of local products and services. It will go live at the end of November.

The organisation also wants to encourage holidaymakers to visit more than one island and explore some of the lesser-known islands in the region. They are working with operators to create special packages around these themes.

A pilot programme is taking place in Rhodes and Crete to try and extend the season. This follows a meeting between Tui Travel boss Peter Long and the Greek prime minister last month where they discussed extending the season from March until the end of November.

Holidaymakers will be encouraged to visit outside of peak season with special packages, free entry to attractions and special events.

The region has seen a 9% increase in visitors from the UK this year. “This has been a record year for Greece,” said Ftaklaki. “This shows that our branding is still strong and proves that the product is really good. Tourism is the only way for us to get out of this financial crisis.”