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South Aegean Region Stands Out from the Crowd at WTM 2015

Marietta Papavasileiou, Vice Governor of Tourism for the Region of South Aegean.

Marietta Papavasileiou, Vice Governor of Tourism for the Region of South Aegean.

The Region of the South Aegean made its presence felt at this year’s World Travel Market in London.

The Aegean Islands welcomed all at the World Travel Market 2015, ExCeL, London.

The Aegean Islands welcomed all at the World Travel Market 2015, ExCeL, London.

For starters, throughout the days of the trade fair, the region gave the thousands of WTM attendees a grand welcome once they reached the ExCeL Center entrance as a digital pyramid consisting of electronic screens played a high quality video starring the islands of the Cyclades and the Dodecanese. The same video was screened at the region’s booth in the Greek section and is currently being played via CNN in America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

The promo video was a result of a partnership of the South Aegean Region with CNN announced in the summer.

“This effort started one year ago, when we contacted CNN and managed to embark on a very successful cooperation”, Marietta Papavasileiou, Vice Governor of Tourism for the Region of South Aegean, told the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) during the WTM.

“We basically succeeded in securing a very big supporter for our tourism… Our promo video was created by CNN. Many countries wanted to be displayed at the entrance of ExCel.”

World Travel Market 2015, ExCeL. London

World Travel Market 2015, ExCeL. London

#takemethere

CNN journalist Richard Quest and South Aegean Prefect George Hadjimarkos at the region's stand.

CNN journalist Richard Quest and South Aegean Prefect George Hadjimarkos at the region’s stand during WTM 2015.

The region’s partnership with CNN includes a new tourism campaign for its islands, a stylish logo and a catchy motto: #takemethere. The campaign aims to to highlight the particular features of each island and place all the Aegean islands within the international tourism scene.

CNN will continue playing the promo video through its network until late December, but is already discussing further cooperation with the region in 2016.

And it seems that the region’s cooperation will CNN is just the beginning of a list of partnerships. During the WTM, Ms Papavasileiou held meetings with the BBC and Tripadvisor and discussed ways to promote the Aegean islands in 2016.

According to Ms Papavasileiou, the region’s tourism strategy comes to meet the challenges of the times and aims to highlight the unique features of each island.

WTM 2015 photo report GTP

Region of South Aegean @ WTM

South Aegean Regions opts for bigger stand at WTM

This was the reason the Region of the South Aegean opted to have its own and much bigger stand at this year’s WTM for the first time and not participate as a coexhibitor of the Greek National Tourism Organization.

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“As a region representing some 50 islands we needed more space… Many islands wanted to be here and we want all of them with us”, she said and revealed the region’s plan for WTM 2016 which aims to give all the Aegean islands the chance to be promoted and claim its share of the international tourism market.

“Next year we want to have a mega stand — the Aegean Islands — with all our islands under the umbrella of the Region to offer them equal opportunities of promotion.”

Already Santorini and Rhodes have accepted to participate in the region’s stand next year with their own booths.

“This way we can showcase the Aegean islands as we globally promote them through CNN, so people all over the world will know what the Aegean Islands mean for Greece.”

Refugee crisis, VAT

Photo © TakB / Shutterstock

Kos. Photo © TakB / Shutterstock

In regards to the large number of refugees crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey and entering Europe through many Greek islands, Ms Papavasileiou informed that the region is trying to do everything possible to protect the islands/refugee entry points so bigger challenges can be avoided.

According to Ms Papavasileiou, the refugee crisis has affected certain islands — with Kos facing the biggest challenge — and not yet spread to all the Aegean islands.

When asked if the region should expect assistance from the government, Ms Papavasileiou shook her head.

“No, unfortunately I do not think so. It is a pity but I do not think we should expect too much. Many efforts have begun but solutions will take some time to materialize. The next tourism season is approaching, sales have started which means that we have to take upon ourselves to find solutions, such as the CNN partnership for our promotion.

Another challenge the Aegean islands are facing is the loss of their special value-added tax (VAT) status — a 30 percent reduced implementation of all VAT rates — as foreseen by the third bailout package Greece signed earlier this year with its international creditors.

Ms Papavasileiou, who is also a hotelier, gave us her perspective as an entrepreneur.

“Hoteliers on the islands are up against many problems, including high ENFIA (Single Property Tax), and absorbing the VAT hike just adds to them… This does not allow them to upgrade services, which would bring more revenue to the State in the future.”


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