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SETE Outlook Optimistic for Tourism in 2008

The Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises recently held its sixth conference entitled “The dynamics of changes in world tourism; how do they effect us? What is our reaction?”

The general consensus of the conference was that 2007 appeared to be a good year for world tourism with an increase of international arrivals between five to six percent. Prospects for 2008 are optimistic with an anticipated increase between four and five percent.

According to keynote speaker, Rolf Freitag, chairman of IPK International, an increase between three to four percent worldwide with regards to tourism revenue was identified from the research, yet this figure in Greece was calculated at only 2.5 percent. This indicates that despite three consecutive good years of Greek tourism, Greece has yet to meet the expectations of the travel sector.

Research conducted by IPK International, which specializes in tourism research and tourism marketing worldwide and includes the International Tourism Consulting Group and the World Travel Monitor Company, shows that amongst the reasons for this moderate increase in Greek tourism revenue to date is the unequal relationship between quality and price of low category hotels.

During the conference, it was identified that there is no need for more hotels in any category, but that existing hotels must increase the level and quality of facilities and the services provided.

Another factor identified was that Greece is still behind in attracting low cost airlines and this has resulted in a loss of market share for city break tourism in particular. It was also specified that although demand for air travel worldwide has increased by 28 percent in the last five years, in Greece, it has been limited to 18 percent. Despite this increase, the share of Greek air transport has reduced from 32 to 25 percent during the same period.

It is anticipated, according to the research, that world air traffic in the next 15 years will double, with Asia accounting for 32 percent, Europe at 27 percent and North America at 25 percent. Additional keynote speakers at the conference included Carlos Vogeler, chairman of the UNWTO affiliate members; Dr. Auliana Poon, managing director of Tourism Intelligence International; and Aris Spiliotopoulos, the Greek Tourism Development Minister.

Dr. Poon talked about “Key drivers of travel and tourism transformation, implications for Greek tourism.” Dr. Poon pointed out that “new tourists are fiercely independent” and that a new “breed” of tourists is slowly emerging that she labelled “Bourgeois Bohemians” or “BoBos.”

She went on to explain that it is these types of tourists we must aim to attract and classified them as “the new upper class, well educated, top income generators, and are driven to expand their cultural horizons through experience and travel.”

Dr. Poon explained that for Greece to be able to attract BoBos it must aim for the “Four C advantage,” (Customers, Care, Culture, Continuous improvement) that is, “Know, understand and anticipate the needs of customers, take care of the environment, and important customers, but most importantly your employees, innovate because competitors are not resting, and if taxi drivers, for example, pose a problem, fix it by educating them.”

Finally, she explained Greece must add value to its “nautical product through developing nautical activities and delivering unforgettable experiences,” and concluded that “Unless Greece de-politicizes the tourism sector, existing policies will not change.”

Tourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos spoke about investment in tourism and emphsized the need to “enrich and diversify our tourism product through investment in infrastructures such as conference centers, golf course and marinas, and new tourism models with emphasis on Greek contemporary culture, sport and gastronomy.”

He concluded, “Currently, in the field of tourism investment, the Tourism Development Company is in the second phase of three competitions for the exploitation of public property, that is, the Xenia hotel in Thassos and Tsagaradas in Pelion, and the Faliro Marina.”

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