Through a revamped pavilion and with more Greek exhibitors, Greece showed its best to the international travel trade sector at the 34th World Travel Market (WTM), held 4-7 November 2013 on the fairgrounds of ExCeL–London.
A big leap in foreign visitor numbers to Greece in 2013 (an estimated total arrivals figure up to 17.5 million, a record for the country) has helped fuel predictions that Greece will emerge from six years of recession in 2014.
Greece is open all year round
To build on this growth in 2014, the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) said it will focus efforts to develop Greece into a year round destination by promoting different travel experiences around the country.
“Thanks to increased visitor numbers and a thriving tourism economy in Greece, tourism has significantly contributed to better financial results in the third quarter of 2013 and will continue to play a major part in pulling our country out of recession,” Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni (photo) said.
Greece Welcomed More UK Travelers This Year
The number of British travelers to Greece between January and August increased year-on-year January to August 2012/2013 by 4.2 percent (an extra 71,443 visitors to Greece from the UK).
At the time of the WTM, key tourism figures said that early bookings from the UK market to Greece for next year’s tourism season were already up 10 percent compared with 2013.
GNTO pavilion at WTM
The GNTO pavilion this year hosted 44 Greek exhibitors, up from 36 in 2012. Exhibitors included tourism businesses and associations. The pavilion this year was dedicated to Athens and the culinary tradition of Santorini.
Region of Attica, Athens Live: The greatest live of your life! – At the GNTO‘s annual press conference, travel journalists were informed that the Region of Attica – covering the city of Athens and the Saronic Gulf islands – has embarked on an integrated promotional campaign to boost visitor numbers, which will continue to build momentum in 2014. A first-timer at WTM, the Region of Attica aimed to show the world that Attica is a world-class destination that can offer unique experiences to visitors looking for culture, history, gastronomy, luxury, entertainment, but also sun, sea and sailing – not usually encountered in a city.
The region’s multi-platform campaign consists of a new website athensattica.com; a new smart phone application planned for launch in early 2014; a new familiarization and press trip campaign for key influencers in 2014 and a social media campaign that includes 11 films in six languages.
The Region of Attica’s participation in WTM reinforced the participation of (photo) the Athens-Attica & Argosaronic Hotel Association that shared a stand with the Athens Development & Destination Management Agency and Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB).
Gastronomy in Santorini – A Unique Experience
After the success of 2013 – the Year of Gastronomy in Santorini, the initiative will continue to build Santorini’s notoriety as a gourmet hub into 2014 and beyond, professionals and visitors at WTM were informed.
Aldemar’s group of chefs, under the initiative “Greece on a Dish” that aims to highlight Greek cuisine abroad, teamed up with Santorini-based chef Vassilis Zacharakis and created a menu that was the talk of this year’s WTM.
Throughout the WTM exhibition, visitors to the Greek stand had the opportunity to sample delicious local products from the Santorini section. The best Santorini wines and delicacies were offered to the public to sample while cooking shows were also held.
Greek exhibitors at WTM
Greek National Tourism Organization – Katerina Tzanetopoulou and Kyriakos Liolios from GNTO London. For 2014 and the mid-term the GNTO has turned its attention to extending Greece’s tourism season and plans to work more closely with UK travel professionals to ensure that the trade is aware of its focus and of the product that is available all year round in Greece. However, air lift remains an area to focus on. “Year round air lift is available through Easy jet, Aegean and British Airways to Athens and Thessaloniki and access on from both cities by train, road and internal air lift is efficient and reliable,” the GNTO said.
Greek Travel Pages (GTP) – Nikos Kokkiadis, manager of Dot Travel; Aggelos Linardatos, NaviFrance Paris; Andreas Stylianopoulos, CEO of Navigator Travel & Tourist Services; Philip Kitsopoulos, general director of danae.travel; and Dinos Mitsiou, president & CEO of Amphitrion Holidays.
The Region of South Aegean gave travel professionals at WTM 2013 a preview of its soon-to-launch website aimed to effectively promote the tourism offering of the 48 Greek islands it represents. The website aegeanislands.gr is expected to operate as a valuable tool and reference point for tourism professionals and journalists but also for visitors to the Aegean islands. Pictured at the stand are: Kosmas Mallias, Municipality of Tinos Tourism Committee; Athina Vorilla, Consultant to the Municipality of Naxos and Small Cyclades; Margarita Stefani, Municipality of Andros Tourism Committee; and Phillip Perrakis, Municipality of Andros Tourism Committee.
The Church of Greece participated in the WTM for the first time through the Synodal Office of Religious Tourism headed by the office’s secretary Archimandrite Spyridon Katramados (photo). The aim of the office is the organization and promotion, in Greece and abroad, of pilgrimage tours and the development of all forms of tourism of religious interest for the promotion of various sacred religious monuments, holy monasteries and shrines of the holy Dioceses of the Church of Greece and for the visitors’ benefit and spiritual edifiocation. The participation of the Greek Church is based on a protocol signed in January with the Tourism Ministry for the development of religious-pilgrimage tourism in Greece.
The Thessaloniki Hotels Association held a number of pre-scheduled meetings with leading international tour operators at its stand at WTM 2013. According to the association’s president, Aristotelis Thomopoulos (photo), the “messages” this year are quite positive for Thessaloniki. “We will break even on last year’s losses and eventually close the year with a positive sign and this strengthens our optimism for 2014,” Mr. Thomopoulos said in an interview to a foreign news network. The association also held a presentation of the Northern Greek city, which was supported by the presence of renowned UK author Victoria Hislop. The author of the bestselling novel “The Thread” – that describes historical events that occurred in the city from 1917 until the modern era – spoke in regards to everything about Thessaloniki that has inspired her and continues to inspire her.
The CEO of the Sani Resort (Kassandra, Chalkidiki), Andreas Andreadis, was in high spirits at this year’s WTM. Mr. Andreadis is also the president of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) and leads the non-profit private marketing company for Greek tourism Marketing Greece. During WTM 2013, Mr. Andreadis held talks with leading British tour operators and concluded that early bookings from the UK market to Greece for next year’s tourism season are up 10 percent compared with 2013. “Greece not only has made a big comeback this year but is also moving full steam ahead for 2014,” he told GTP.
General Panhellenic Federation of Tourism Enterprises (GEPOET) – Spiros Kapitsinas, general director of GEPOET; George Kalogiros, Manager of Miraz Tours; Marios Trivizas, Chief Executive Officer of Kentavros Travel. At WTM 2013, the stand of GEPOET was a meeting point for Greek tourism proffesionals – members of the federation from Athens, Corfu, Rhodes, Crete, etc – with international and Greek associates. GEPOET welcomed the announcemnet of the Tourism Ministry to highlight the lesser-known destinations of the country, labeled secret Greece. “This will contribute to the extension of the tourism season and boost walking tours/hiking vacations,” the federation said in an announcement.
Aldemar Hotels & Spa – The executive director of Aldemar Hotels, Alexandros Angelopoulos (center), with Maria Theofanopoulou from GTP and Philip Kitsopoulos from danae.travel. At WTM 2013, Aldemar’s chef George Hatzopoulos created daily mouth-watering dishes at the GNTO stand and offered international travel professionals and visitors to try “Greece on a dish.” Mr. Angelopoulos also announced that the 5th Greek Gourmet Touring “Sympossio” event will take place next year from late January until the end of February. In 2014, the Sympossio will visit some 15 countries including France, Italy and Scandinavia and introduce the experience of a traditional ouzeri (type of Greek tavern that serves ouzo and mezedes, small finger foods). The Sympossio event is a unique synergy of Greek producers, hoteliers, airline and coastal companies, along with travel trade professionals from all over Europe that aims to promote Greek gastronomy to European countries.
Louis Cruises – Marios Shekeris, country manager and Josephine Ball, sales representative. Louis Cruises presented its new cruise programs for the 2014 season to travel professionals at WTM 2013. Having launched a new cruise product in 2013 reflective of its Hellenic roots, the company has nearly doubled the number of ports it calls at for 2014 with the introduction of nine new destinations that include Samos, Milos, Syros, Kos, Ios, Symi, Chios, Cesme and Bodrum. Louis Cruises’ 2014 itineraries will sail to Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Heraklion (Crete), Santorini, Istanbul, and Kusadasi, and also to the lesser-known ports.
Grace Hotels – Grace Hotels is an exclusive, privately owned group of luxury boutique hotels, restaurants and spas in the world’s most stylish destinations and resorts – from Greece, Morocco and China to the Americas.
Hydraiki Naval Company-Athens One Day Cruise – George Lampropoulos, sales executive and Alina Dritsa, business development director. Hydraiki Naval Company offers leisure visitors to Greece well-designed, elegant vessels, new ideas & products, possibilities of choice of tailor made programs and highest service quality. For the leisure market the company has developed the very successful and popular concept of “The 1 Day Holiday,” which packages cruises, live folk entertainment, leisure activities, guided tours, exclusive Mediterranean tastes and a personal touch that assures travelers of a memorable day. The one-day holiday includes visits to three beautiful Greek islands (Aegina, Hydra and Poros).
Airfasttickets – Anastasios Mais, commercial manager of Airfasttickets and Maria Theofanopoulou, GTP. Airfasttickets attended WTM 2013 with an impressive stand located in the Global Village section (WTM location for travel and tourism businesses with a global presence) and presented its new B2B platform for travel agents and introduced its London-based Corporate Travel department entitled Perseus Corporate Travel. As a start up and newcomer into the Corporate Travel industry, Airfasttickets are offering all new companies no set up fees and no booking fees for all of November. The company promoted its competitive fares and Corporate Travel Management software for larger companies.
Astir Odysseus Kos Resort & Spa– The sales executive of Astir Odysseus Kos Resort & Spa, Denia Vrettaki, informed tourism professionals at WTM of the resort’s high standards of service and great facilities. Located in a privileged location, just 5km from the historical Kos town, Astir Odysseus boasts a beachfront position with stunning sea views which makes it ideal for relaxation. Built in 2009, Astir Odysseus Kos consists of 267 elegant rooms and suites, 5 outdoor pools, 3 restaurants, a mini club, a fully equipped spa, 3 conference halls and many sports facilities. “Astir Odysseus Kos Resort & Spa captivates with its hospitality while offering upgraded services,” Ms. Vrettaki told GTP.
Kosmos Rent a Car – The owner of Kosmos Rent a Car Stathis Christopoulos (center) with Theano Christopoulou and Anthony Rotas, the managing director of the company’s Mykonos branch. Athens-based Kosmos Rent a Car was the only car rental company from Greece with its own stand at WTM 2013 and aimed to enhance its brand name globally. Kosmos introduced its services to new markets and formed new business agreements through contacts with brokers and travel agencies from all over the world.
Beleon Tours – Kiki Damigou, MICE & VIP project manager; Nikolaos Christodoulakis, development & contracting manager; Bella Azoidou, general director; Marianna Steggou and Christos Zikos from Porto Carras; Leonidas Dimitriadis, president & CEO; and George Tokmazov, Athens Office Director. Beleon Tours is a full service tour operator of incoming tourism to Greece. Its wide network consists of 12 branch offices all over Greece and more than 540 dedicated specialists, ready to provide upscale services to the most demanding travelers. Following WTM 2013, Beleon’s next stops will include the Exhibition for the Incentive Business Travel and Meetings (eibtm) in Barcelona (19-21 November), Philoxenia in Thessaloniki (21-14 November) and International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) in Cannes (2-5 December).
Special Tours Wholesalers – Maria Theofanopoulou from GTP with Special Tours’ business development director, Spyros Nikolakakis. London-based Greek company Special Tours Wholesalers is a global tourism supplier, offering its services exclusively to travel agents, tour operators and airlines. The company has largest availability with 89.496 hotels worldwide. On-line reservation system with digital images and full hotel information currently used by over 7.553 tour operators & travel agents globally. XML connectivity and B2B White Label systems with full support are available.
Aquila Hotels & Resorts – Eftychis Petrakis, yield & revenue manager. At WTM 2013, Aquila Hotels & Resorts representatives gave travel professionals all they needed to know on its four hotels: Rithymna Beach, Porto Rethymno, Elounda Village and the recently refurbished Atlantis Hotel. Also, visitors to the stand were informed on the new Aquila Hotels & Resorts corporate card “More is More Business,” aimed at enterprises that choose any of the hotels to hold their professional meetings, events or any other type of activity. The card offers a host of privileges as a reward.
Western Greece Region – Konstantinos Tzamaloukas, I.C.T. Consultant MSc and Ioanna Spiliopoulou, Economist MSc form the Development Company of Western Greece Region. The Western Greece Region aims to become a renowned destination and a unique experience for visitors. The region’s promotional means include e-infrastructure activities, printed and online information, participation in national and international tourism exhibitions and the “iwesterngr” platform that provides tourism/cultural information through smart phones. The region’s slogan “Full of Contrast!” aims to show that Western Greece is a destination “full” and complete where its value is a result from the composition of its contradictions (classic and modern, ancient wonders and new technological achievements, sea and mountain, etc.).
Region of Crete – Katerina Tsagaraki, professional tour guide; Manolis Markantonakis, Region of Rethymno; and Maria Lavdaki, Regional unity of Lassithi, Department of Tourism. On the sidelines of the WTM 2013, the Region of Crete hosted a classical piano concert in London as part of a series of events to celebrate the 100 years union of Crete with Greece. The award-winning twin duo Marianna and Stephanie Kapsetakis performed works for solo and four-hand piano by EChopin, ELiszt, M Ravel and distinguished Greek composer George Minas will gave a UK premier performance of his work entitled “Eight moments of Freedom,” which is based on the musical theme of the Greek National Anthem by Nikolaos X. Mantzaros. The piano concert was held under the auspices of the GNTO and took place at the Hellenic Center on Paddington street.
Aqua Vista Hotels – Alexandros Konstantinou, director & head of travel PR & communications. Aqua Vista has a positive outlook for the 2014 season as bookings for Aqua Vista hotel members have already doubled for 2014 compared to the same period last year. Apart from the UK market, a strong growth in demand for Aqua Vista hotels is coming from Eastern Europe (Russia and Ukraine) while the Far East and South-East Asia are markets that have also expressed an interest.
Trésor Hotels & Resorts – Panagiotis Pantazopoulos, managing director and Ioannis Nonis, commercial manager. Trésor Hotels & Resorts participated in WTM 2013 for the second consecutive year. The chain comprises a collection of more than 25 handpicked independent luxury boutique hotels in 16 top destinations across Greece, aiming primarily at the projection of its hotel-members which constitute true treasures, but also the beautiful destinations within which they are located.
Pirates of the Aegean – Angeliki Vaxevanaki, Pirates creator (center), launched the “ultimate sailing adventure” in the Greek Archipelagos at WTM 2013. According to Mrs. Vaxevanaki, Pirates of the Aegean is one of the most exploratory sailing voyages in the Greek Cycladic islands that includes a unique game designed for those who seek “out of the ordinary” experiences. Mrs. Vaxevanaki tells us that the adventure is a concept, designed by travelers for travelers, in order to discover both the explored and unexplored parts Greece through a contemporary pirates game: 7 days, 3 Greek islands, 4 stylish sailing boats, one representing a team paintball battleships. In between some of the adventures, the voyage will include snorkeling to find treasures, riding ATV motorcycles in the wild contrasts of the Aegean islands to find the next route towards the finale.
Destsetters – Gay friendly prestigious hotels from Greece, Cyprus and 10 other countries were represented and promoted to the International LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans Gender) travel market by destination development company Destsetters that were located in the WTM’s Global Village (WTM location for travel and tourism businesses with a global presence). At WTM 2013, international tourism professionals that visited the company’s stand were also informed on Destsetters’ new segments that focus on gastronomy (already launched), wellness & spa and luxury (to launch soon). “With partnerships that include destinations such as Mexico and Myanmar, I can proudly say that Destsetters is a Greek project that went international,” the CEO and strategy specialist, Nikos Morantis (photo) told GTP.