Although some travel professionals were a bit leery about attending last month’s Tourist Panorama travel and tourism fair, the end result eliminated any fears they may have had. The 350-plus exhibitor stands were well spaced and with plenty of breathing room, and most all had constructed an attractive presentation.
As well, most that GTP talked with said that although there seemed to have been less visitors to company stands this year, plenty of business was taken care of and agreements were made and signed.
This year’s Panorama, the 12th, also marked the golden anniversary of the Kalofolias Group, the organizer of the fair. The group, with its Express financial newspaper and Tourism and Economy magazine (for the past 33 years), has been informing the tourism sector since 1958.
Tourism Development Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia officially opened Tourist Panorama on April 19. She told guests that Greece’s tourism industry, through quality services and products, would capture the future. She also said that according to all available data “this will be yet another record year in tourism arrivals to Greece.”
Along with the fair, one of the parallel events of interest included a presentation on Internet and it consequences on the future of tourism in Greece. Globally, the Internet will be responsible for $80 billion in tourism and travel sales, according to Philip Nielson, managing director of Creative Marketing. In 2005, sales revenue from the sector reached a mere $38 billion, he said. “And for 2008, it’s predicted that 40% of all tourism market sales will have been carried out through the Internet.
For Greece, according to data available from Expedia, electronic bookings made from November of 2005 to November of 2006 increased by 100%. However, the next speaker, Thomas Giotitsas of Athens Economic University, insisted that: “the use and installation of the Internet within Greek travel offices is mediocre toward good.” He said his university completed a study of 50 of the country’s biggest agencies and found that these companies agree that Internet use does promote their offices and that they are satisfied with their company’s Internet sales strategy. But, said Mr. Giotitsas, one the authors of the study, “only a few agents said they want to develop electronic systems for exchanges with customers and/or consumers.”
During a panel discussion, Georgos Drakopoulos, general manager of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises, said that Greece is missing general marketing logic concerning its tourism product. He added that we must research the needs of Greek tourism enterprises, and especially smaller companies.
Nikos Gazelides, managing director of Instone Hellas, mentioned that according to his available data, the percentage of electronic sales within travel agencies is no more than 4% of total sales.
Yiannis Evangelou, president of Hellenic Association of Travel & Tourism Agents, said that there have been substantial improvements within travel agencies.