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International Conference Explores Current Greek Tourism Issues

The continual changing of advertising companies selected to promote Greece every year has resulted in a lack of continuity in the image Greece projects and no distinct brand identity, said Cleopatra Veloutsou, a Glasgow University lecturer, at last month’s Second International Conference on Tourism held in Athens.

The two-day conference, organized by the Academy of Tourism Research and Studies and the Athens Institute for Education and Research, was divided into six sessions with themes ranging from types of tourism destinations, to mega events – like the Olympics – and city growth, to brand image and marketing, to agro-tourism and environmental protection. Several studies provided insight on issues affecting tourism in Greece.

Cleopatra Veloutsou, a lecturer at Glasgow University, discussed brand image and brand identity.

Cleopatra Veloutsou, a lecturer at Glasgow University, discussed brand image and brand identity.

Dr. Veloutsou discussed the development of brand image and the many factors that affect it, from an individual’s experience to what competitors say about it. Creating a brand for a destination is difficult, she said, because it “must satisfy all audiences and differentiate us from the competition.” Dr. Veloutsou looked at the advertising campaigns of all the Mediterranean countries and found that each country presented very similar offerings and that it was hard to distinguish one country from another.

Mike Epitropoulos, head of the Athens Institute for Education and Research’s tourism research unit, is currently studying agro-tourism in Greece as a sustainable rural development tool. Agro-tourism, he said, can provide one avenue to help stop rural abandonment experienced in parts of Greece. This form of tourism can contribute to maintaining a good standard of living and quality of life, which Dr. Epitropoulos stressed is not only based on money, but also includes “empowerment from the bottom up,” as well as protection of the environment and local culture. Dr. Epitropoulos concluded that rural residents must be taught more about the potential of agro-tourism as a business and how it operates.

Sofia Daskou and Despina Gavrilidis, both Deree College lecturers, discussed relationship marketing and the tourism industry. Relationship marketing focuses on developing long-term quality relationships with customers that are based on excellent service and trust. “A customer’s satisfaction is a powerful memory that will keep them coming back,” said Dr. Daskou.

Georgios Papageorgiou, a lecturer at the University of Surrey, explored perceptions about Greek cultural traits and difficulties in collaboration within the public-private sector. Dr. Papageorgiou’s study focused on interactions between British tour operators, Greek hotels and the Greek National Tourism Organization.

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