The record number visitors to the Greek capital’s annual domestic tourism fair, Tourism Panorama, which was opened this year by Deputy Minister for Tourism Development Anastassios Liaskos, saw sleek presentations by a good number of the country’s regional prefectures.
And to set their minds to rest as to why they appear to be paying more for a vacation than foreign guests do, Mr. Liaskos, during the opening ceremony, explained that “Greek tourists pay for their delay in deciding where and when they will spend their holidays.”
But while he didn’t mention the previous years’ surge in last minute bookings from abroad, because of cheaper prices, he did say that Greek hoteliers do not distinguish domestic tourists from foreigners.
On a more general front, he said that one of the main pillars of the ministry’s policy is the development and promotion of local tourism products: “Domestic tourism has particular importance for Greece, as it can contribute to distributing tourism along seasonal and geographic lines, in regional development and in job creation,” he said.
Mr. Liaskos added that besides the “We Stay in Greece” promotional campaign, the ministry is more than doubling its fund allocation for the Hellenic Tourism Organization’s subsidized social tourism program, from 2.5 million euros in 2004 to 6 million euros in 2005. The program provides families, youth and seniors from the more financially challenged classes with offers for holidays in Greece. In cooperation with hoteliers, tourism programs will be available not just to Greek but also to all EU citizens, regardless of their taxable income. Discounts will range from between 30 and 50 percent for groups of four or more people. Another 10 percent will be deducted for bookings by April 30.
In the meantime, Greeks’ appetite for tourism remains unabated, as the annual Kappa Research tourism survey, presented at the exhibition, shows. The steady rise in traveling abroad continues, with 25.8 percent of Greeks saying they do so once a year and 6.1 percent, twice.
However, those taking recreational trips with overnight stays declined from 70 percent in 2002 to 57 percent. The average expenditure on holidays was 1,300 euros, an average of about 105 euros per day.
The 10th Tourism Panorama exhibition, with Thessaly as the honored domestic destination, was organized by the Express-Kalofolias group.
Although the fair, held at the Pireaus Port Authority’s exhibition center, was the same size as last year – 13,500 square meters – there were 625 exhibitors (23 more than last year).
The total number of visitors this year reached 42,325, which was a 17.5% increase over the year before. Professional visitors this year totaled 10,129 against last year’s 9,935.