Greece experienced one of the busiest ever ITB Berlin exhibitions
By Nikos Krinis
The good news began from the first day of the trade show, with the president of the German Travel Association (DRV), Norbert Fiebig, stating that bookings for travel packages to Greece from Germany were recording an increase of some 70 percent this year compared to 2016.
Visiting Berlin on the occasion of ITB, Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura held meetings with representatives of leading tour operators, including TUI and Thomas Cook, and was informed that demand for travel to Greece in 2017 has increased by 30 to 70 percent.
“Greece is one of the star destinations of the German tourism market this year”, the Greek Tourism Ministry said in a statement following the trade show.
The Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), also brought good news on the first day of ITB as it officially stated that it expects the 2017 season to see a significant rise in tourism revenue and tourist arrivals.
According to SETE’s forecast for 2017, international arrivals could amount to some 26 million from 24.8 million in 2016 and revenue could reach 14.2 to 14.5 billion euros, considering that the average tourist spending recovers to the levels of 2015.
Following are statements of Greek tourism figures and travel professionals made to the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) during ITB 2017, concerning this year’s season.
Key Greek tourism figures @ ITB 2017 – Statements
Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura: “Greek tourism this year began on a high note and we are hoping that this will continue… Greece has earned the respect of all due to its reliability. Tour operators saw and felt the changes and witnessed the development of our tourism product… Greece’s growth in tourism is not accidental… Greece has its own identity and through its policies has achieved in attracting tourists and – most importantly – making them loyal tourists, repeat visitors.”
GNTO Secretary General Dimitrios Tryfonopoulos: “Germany remains the first main tourism market for Greece… Last year 2.2 million German tourists came to our country and we are hoping to attract more this year, with a focus on high-end visitors. The German market is one that loves to travel, 12 months a year, and this is the message that we want to spread: that Greece is open all year round, during all four seasons of the year.”
SETE President Andreas Andreadis: “The messages from Germany are optimistic, bookings are proceeding at a very positive rate at the moment, assisted by a series of circumstances, mainly that traffic to Turkey is very low while the market of Egypt has yet to recover. The euro is cheap compared to the dollar and the refugee situation is calm so it does not affect travel decisions as it did in 2016 at this time of the year. This has resulted to a high number of early bookings, a high two-digit figure in most cases.”
Hellenic Hoteliers Federation President Yiannis Retsos: “The messages from the German market are very positive for Greece. I hope that no external factors will occur and halt what appears at the moment and thus overturn the optimism that exists.
Exhibitors/Destinations @ ITB 2017– Impressions
Halkidiki Tourism Organization/Halkidiki Hotel Association President Grigoris Tasios: “Greece is smiling this year. The season is already shaping up and it is only March… The increase in Halkidiki is significant compared with last year: currently we are experiencing a growth of 20 percent in average from Germany alone compared to last year and we are also seeing very good signs from other western markets. We are hoping that this will bring good results and deals for the 2018 season.”
Santorini Hoteliers Association President Manolis Karamolegos: “Santorini’s ‘relationship’ with the German market goes back many years… Visitors to our island this year will find the tourist product upgraded based on new ideas, actions and services. Once again those that select our island for their vacation will be satisfied… For Greece in general we must all promote unique experiences for tourists. We must promote Greece’s “myth” and attract more visitors.”
Ilias Gartzonikas, Region of Epirus, Department of Tourism: “Once again the ITB fair is the center of world tourism… The German market always remains the number one goal for Epirus. The tourism products we offer to German travellers are upgraded continuously and we are particularly promoting our alternative tourism forms which are highly popular in this market.
Mouzenidis Group President Boris Mouzenidis: “I think that 2017 will develop into one of the best years for Greek tourism. Greece has been ascending in recent years in regards to quality, safety and hotel infrastructure.”
Argo Travel Group Director of Sales and Marketing Stratis Voursoukis (pictured with Apostolos Fanoudis, Business Development Manager): “I believe that 2017 will be a magical year for Greece, considering that we all do our part… Following meetings with professionals I see all destinations – popular and lesser known – attracting visitors. Major private initiatives took place over the last two years and we see that it is bearing fruit: innovative products, alternative tourism and luxury tourism. The season has also been extended to at least seven months – as opposed to 2-3 months – and we are aiming to continue business with winter tourism.”
Santikos Collection COO Konstantinos Santikos: “The messages are positive for this year’s season. In general Greece has benefited from the situation in Turkey and Egypt, as these destinations have yet to recover. So bookings, as expected, are on the up. Especially for Skiathos we are seeing a growth in bookings and an increase in the flights to the island.”
Santikos Collection Business Development Director Katerina Santikou: “Every year the Greek tourism product is upgraded. This is not based on a decision of all hoteliers but you can not do otherwise. If you stay back from development, you get left behind in the market… I see a very good year forming for the country and I see hotels filling up very quickly, so the last minute tourists may be up against some issues such as not finding available beds. In general it will be a very good year.”
Meli Tours Owner and Managing Director Dimitrios Melikokis: “The ITB Berlin trade show gave us a very productive three days in the German market and I do believe that Greece has become a trend. The country made its comeback in the recent years and I think that 2017 will be its highlight.”
Neptune Hotels Room Division Manager Dimitris Bisas (pictured with Reservations Manager Doris Dallhammer and Entertainment Manager Erika You): “The visitation to the Greek stand this year was amazing and surpasses what we have seen in previous years. This fills us with optimism and hope for the season… Compared to last year, Kos is seeing a huge increase in tourists. Our hotel right now is seeing a 60 percent increase in early bookings from various markets. But the German market makes the difference as 85% of our clientele is from Germany.”
Visit Meteora Managing Director George Kourelis: “According to the messages we are receiving from the early booking numbers, 2017 is expected to be a great year. On our part, we will continue to do all we can to showcase Meteora as a unique destination in Europe, not only for Greece, as it is one of Europe’s highlights. It is a destination that combines culture, alternative activities, adventure tourism, religious tourism, tradition and history… We are very proud to be ambassadors of this important destination.”
Spyrou Philoxenia Project Manager Dimitris Schistohilis (pictured with Deputy Sales & Marketing Manager John Grigoras): “Our impression from the ITB trade fair is very positive and the German market has shown strong interest in Greece. But that’s not all… Many markets, such as the Czech Republic, Poland and Israel, are expressing an interest for destinations we are promoting such as Pelion, which is a 12-month destination that can also offer summer options. We also noticed quite an interest from the French and the Belgian market.”
Moments @ ITB Berlin 2017
Minister Kountoura tours Greek stand @ ITB Berlin 2017
During the ITB expo, Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura visited the stands of Greek co-exhibitors in the Greek stand and attended events held by regions and destinations.
The next ITB Berlin will take place March 7-11, 2018.