ΔΗΜΟΣ ΚΕΡΚΥΡΑΙΩΝ, Νομός Κέρκυρας

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Corfu Tourist Services has consistently been one of the leading tourist agencies on the island known as the brightest of jewels in the Ionian Sea. Corfu's celebrated history, culture and tradition of hospitality, its lush and abundant natural beauty, glorious beaches and safe sailing waters have long made it one of the most appealing vacation destinations in Europe and C.T.S., with a half century of experience, an extensive network of local contacts and alliances with specialist tour operators throughout the World, is uniquely placed to offer its clients an unmatched, professional service and a perfect holiday in this wonderful location.  C.T.S. was first established in 1961 by Michalis Chalikiopoulos, a successful local businessman at the centre of Corfu's emergence as a popular tourist attraction, who not only exhibited the enterprise so often found in his countrymen, but also truly embodied the long Corfiot tradition of hospitality to foreign visitors. Well liked and well known, he was a recognisable figure at the island's bouzoukia and tavernas and much admired by a growing number of friends and clients from Europe and America, to all of whom he was an enthusiastic guide. That he understood this spirit of "filoxenia" was no accident; some thirty years previously, in 1935, when Louisa Durrell arrived in Corfu with her children Gerald, Lawrence, Leslie and Margaret, as well as Lawrence's wife, Nancy, it was Michalis' father, the taxi driver Spiros "Americanos" Chalikiopoulos, who famously took the family under his protective wing.  Born in 1892, to Michalis and Afroditi, Spiros was raised in the suburb of Kanoni, just south of Corfu Town, with his brothers, Nikos, Stefanos, Xenofon and Yiannis and his sister, Olga. In 1920, as was becoming increasingly common for young Greeks, Spiros, along with Yiannis, Nikos and Stefanos, made the long journey to the United States, a country that offered them the opportunity for adventure, work and the means to send money back home to their family. Adopting the surname Chalipos for brevity, the brothers worked hard in a wide diversity of jobs, from Boston's produce markets to the oil-fields of Alaska. The money that they sent home went far in Corfu, supporting their siblings, purchasing land and property, funding the construction of a new family home in Kanoni, providing their brother Xenofon with capital to set up his own businesses and allowing Afroditi to indulge her considerable number of godchildren. According to family legend, the numerous delays in construction of the new house, and the fact that the scale of its original design had to be so considerably reduced, were due in no small part to the delight she took in honouring her obligations.. and the lavish generosity she bestowed upon the children of her extended family. The brothers, except Yiannis who married, started his own family and became a policeman in Boston, returned to their native island in the early 1930's, as America plunged into the Great Depression. Once home, Nikos made a good living, having purchased the license to ferry passengers by boat between Kanoni and Perama, and Spiros, his new found fondness for the English language and American accent earning him his distinctive soubriquet, began the taxi driving career that led him, so fortuitously, into contact with the Durrell family. A benevolent, genial and pragmatic man, whose battered Dodge taxi was a familiar sight on the streets of Corfu Town and Kanoni, Spiros was one of the first people the Durrells met in Corfu and very quickly became their fierce protector. As Gerald Durrell wrote. "Spiros had entered our lives on our arrival in Corfu as a taxi driver and within hours had transformed himself into our guide, mentor and friend" (from "Marrying Off Mother", 1991). Unique at the time, Spiros' command of the English language proved invaluable in helping to ease the Durrells into the rhythm of Corfiot life. But it was his hospitality, abundant kindness and selfless devotion to Louisa Durrell and her family that proved to be such a large part of the reason why their stay became so successful and in turn, through the family's published reminiscences, that the island, its wonders and spirit have become so internationally celebrated. Through Spiros' intimacy with the family, his son Michalis became close to both Gerald and Lawrence and, enduring after his father's death from pneumonia in 1940, Michalis enjoyed a longstanding relationship with the Durrells, as well as making friends with their numerous guests on the island, including the controversial American author Henry Miller and the English novelist Mary Stewart, whose 1964 Corfu set novel "This Rough Magic" bears a dedication to Michalis. From 1946 to 1949, during the Greek Civil War, Michalis functioned as a liaison officer for the British Army before starting his first business venture. Evidently inheriting his family's keen, industrious nature, Michalis' investment was funded from the proceeds of the sale of the salvaged engine from Spiros' iconic and much beloved Dodge taxi. Unfortunately, the vehicle that had transported the Durrell Family, as well as countless other locals and visitors to the island, was destroyed in the Luftwaffe bombing of Corfu during the Second World War, but the engine, astonishingly, remained intact. Although his business was successful, Michalis evidently harboured other ambitions. Recognising the allure of the island's lush, bounteous natural beauty, it's "perpetual spring", its tranquillity and traditional hospitality as well as its close historical ties to Europe, he was also no doubt mindful of the romantic vision of Corfu implanted in readers the World over by Gerald and Lawrence Durrell's accounts of their lives on "this brilliant little speck of an island". Selling his share of the leather factory, Michalis became the manager of the Xenia Hotel in Kanoni, and then the manager of a busy port agent's office which, although it was forced to close, provided him with experience, a international reputation and, most importantly, a substantial and loyal client base on which to found his own initiative. And so, trading as Corfu Tourist Services, he began his own business in 1961. Working with local hoteliers, restaurateurs, taverna owners and tour guides, Michalis built a network of contacts with European and American travel agencies and C.T.S., in what proved to be a bold and exceptionally prescient move, became one of the first developers of international and domestic tourism on Corfu. By the early 1960's, a vibrant, cosmopolitan Corfu was already a popular destination for Greek and Italian holidaymakers and a favoured port of call for foreign cruise ships and yachts, but despite extensive post-war rebuilding and the ongoing development of the island's modern infrastructure, Corfu's airport did not yet have international status and overseas visitors, although their numbers were growing, were few by comparison with the more developed resorts of the Southern Mediterranean. However Michalis' foresight served him well; when Corfu's Ioannis Kapodistrias airport began to receive direct international flights in 1965, C.T.S. was perfectly placed to make the most of the sudden and massive rise in international visitors and by 1972, with work completed on a dedicated international passenger terminal, Corfu Tourist Services was set to become one of the most successful agencies on the island. Serving a wide diversity of clients, CTS dealt with the huge number of tourists now flocking to Corfu as part of packaged tours, as well as independent travellers and an ever-growing roster of VIP clients, including Prince Michael of Kent. Further recognition of Michalis' reputation as the foremost tourist agent on Corfu came between 1965 and 1967, when CTS was contracted by the United States Navy to arrange for the transport and entertainment of the Sixth Fleet, including the supercarrier USS America, one of the largest aircraft carriers in the World. Engaged at that time in joint operations in the Ionian Sea with Italian and Greek forces, and deployed in 1967 to provide support for potential civil unrest arising from the military coup in Greece, the vast ship and its 5000 strong crew was a regular sight in the Corfu Channel. C.T.S. was responsible for the onshore hospitality of the entire fleet, as well as arranging visits to the warships by invited locals. A massive undertaking, it was a commission that Michalis ensured was fulfilled perfectly. Michalis' son, Spiros Chalikiopoulos joined the company at an early age and in 1987, with Corfu enjoying a further boom in tourism, he took over as managing director of a flourishing family business. Throughout the next decade, under his stewardship, the company enjoyed continued success and expanded its operations considerably as Corfu's tourist industry thrived. In 1994, further exhibiting his family's pioneering spirit, Spiros began to develop relations with tour operators in Eastern Europe and Corfu Tourist Services became the first Greek travel agent to arrange holidays for clients from the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. Furthermore, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Spiros recognised the vast potential for tourist business within Russia, Ukraine and the newly minted states within the CIS and began making inroads into these burgeoning markets. 15 years later, with partners throughout the region, Corfu Tourist Services now arrange for more visitors to Corfu from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, than any other local agency. Originally based in offices in Corfu Town, in the area of Mouragia adjacent to the port and overlooking Vido Island, 1997 saw Spiros relocating the company to Kanoni, to the same building that was the family home to his grandfather during the 1930's; a fitting testimony to the spirit that defines the Chalikiopoulos family and closing the circle on an enduring family tradition. Now celebrating its 50th year in business, Corfu Tourist Services offers a comprehensive range of exceptional services to its discerning clientele - from self catering accommodation and studios to hotels, apartments, private villas, sailing charters, motor yachts, fishing tours and cruises throughout the Ionian. Always pushing forwards, "Corfu Tourist Services" offers a unique suite of VIP services and a range of excursions, trips and incentive programs that set the company far ahead of its rivals, and 2011 sees "Corfu Tourist Services" expand yet further into real estate marketing (for residential, commercial properties and land), planning advisory and construction.
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