Thursday, 27 April 2017

GREECE: Demand For Greece Tourism Shoots Up

Bookings to Greece have exceeded all expectations, said Andrea Springer of Springer Reisen Tour Operators during an event held in Austria.

The head of the Austrian tour operator said that the packages offered for some destinations in Greece had reached 85% capacity. Mrs. Springer presented the data during an event called “Dream journeys” on single theme tourism held on April 3 at the lakeside city of Walden in Austria, which was attended by over 500 guests, including politicians, economic and tourist professionals.

Springer Reisen Tour Operators are the top selling group in the region of Carinthia and one the most prominent in southern Austria.

It offers three 245-page catalogues for Greece, which include a total of 16 destinations. New destinations are added each year, with the 2017 one incorporating direct flights from Gratz to the new airport in the island of Paros.

Bookings show an increased demand of Greece in summer, say German tour operators. According to Deutsche Welle, Germany’s largest tour operator, TUI registered a 4% increase in bookings for Greece in the current winter period and the coming summer, compared to the previous year.

Thomas Cook, which is the second largest operator in terms of turnover, also stated there was a rise in demand for Greece, while All Tours said demand for Greece is “very good” for the summer and “good” for Spain.

In addition, the operator noted a fall in reservations for Turkey. Another operator, DER Touristik, pointed out bookings for Greece have doubled in comparison to last year, with a concurrent increase in demand for countries in the Western Mediterranean.

Holiday bookings for Greece through German tour operator TUI are showing a 30 percent increase this year, which not only concerns popular tourism resorts but other destinations too, according to the company’s head, Marek Andryszak.

Andryszak came to Greece for TUI Germany’s annual meeting with Greek hoteliers in Thessaloniki, and told Kathimerini that the two main reasons Greece is showing such impressive growth in bookings are the low demand for neighboring Turkey and Spain’s failure to match its growth in demand with more beds following last year’s increase.

The TUI official argued that Greece has the opportunity to make the most of its real potential as a destination this season, which it did not do in 2015 and 2016 owing to external factors.

Regarding Greek hotel prices, Andryszak estimated that “ this year the average rate will come to a higher level than last year.” He explained that “this will be mainly due to the earlier reduction in hoteliers’ offers than in previous years as contract rates are slightly increased.”

He also referred to the volume of hotels his company cooperates with in Greece, saying that “TUI has the biggest portfolio it’s ever had in Greece” and attributed the choice of Thessaloniki for the meeting with the Greek hoteliers to the tour operator’s objective being “the recovery of our momentum in the market of northern Greece that has declined since the start of the 2000s.”

Andryszak further revealed to Kathimerini that TUI has decided to launch a global pilot program from Greece – starting on Crete – aimed at connecting tourism with the agricultural sector. A series of actions will be targeted, including the promotion of specific agricultural products through the hotels.

The program will be officially announced at the ITB fair in Berlin that opens on Tuesday.

The number of inbound tourists from China to Greece in the summer season of 2017 is expected to rise significantly, according to data.

The projection is confirmed by a notable increase in tax free sales in Greece in the first 3-month period of 2017 compared to 2016. A mere 150,000 Chinese tourists visited Greece last year, a number that is estimated to be much higher this year.

Data released by Premiere Tax Free Greece show that visitors from China are choosing Greece as a destination, reoccupying first spot among the nationalities, as 31% of all Tax Free transactions was covered by Chinese in the first 3 months of 2017. Chinese national spend an average of 330 euros with a preference to jewellery and clothing.

“Russia, FYROM and the US choose our country with great fervour and contribute to a 60% rise in profits via Tax Free transactions in Athens, Rhodes and Thessaloniki”, said Aggeliki Kalogiannidou, marketing manager of Premiere Tax Free Greece.

She went on to add that purchases were up by 109% for Chinese, 65% by Russians, 87% by Americans and 37% by FYROM and Israel, a 200% rise compared to the first 3-month term of 2016. Athens Tax Free is on top accounting for 52% of Tax Free transactions, while Thessaloniki came in second.

It should be noted that two Chinese cultural exhibitions are scheduled to officially open on Thursday, April 27 in the framework of Sino-Hellenic cultural exchange year at the Byzantine and Christian Museum.

China’s ambassador to Greece, Zou Xialoi, said on Wednesday that there are strong ties between Greece and China in the tourism sector during his speech at the Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum on Wednesday. He underlined that there is prospect for a further increase in flows between both countries.

A catalyst for an increase to tourism is the settlement of Visa and the strengthening of direct air links between the two countries. He proposed specific actions that would help increase Chinese tourist arrivals even more than last year’s 100,000 visitors to Greece.

For instance, the Chinese fashion of getting married in Greece is viewed as an excellent opportunity for attracting tourists to Greek islands, especially Santorini.

The Chinese Ambassador also referred to the market of elderly tourists. In China, people over 60 years are estimated at 200 million. These people want to come to Greece to explore ancient Greek civilization.

He also advised that Greece do more to attract student tourism, noting that China’s youth needs to visit the cradle of European civilization.

He praised the joint promotional actions and participation of Greece country in international tourism fairs in China.

Alt. Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura said that Greece aims to become China’s first choice in Europe.

Greek products such as olive oil and wine could have a significant presence in the electronic platform of Alibaba Group, the managing director of Alibaba for Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece said on Wednesday.

Addressing an event organized by the Athens Chamber of Tradesmen, he said that tourism was a sector with significant growth prospects, while products with comparative advantages such as wine and olive oil could also have a significant presence in the e-platform.

He added that middle class Chinese consumers were very interested in international brands and particularly European products and services.

He noted there was a dynamic consumer category in China, belonging to the middle class, young in age and familiar with e-commerce and Internet, interested in travelling to Greek islands and in buying Greek products.

Alibaba’s platform includes hundreds of millions of products in 40 different main categories. Buyers of these products are located in more than 190 countries and regions, exchanging 100,000 messages on a daily basis.