Tourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos recently announced ministry aims, actions and initiatives for 2008. The primary aim, according to Mr. Spiliotopoulos, is “Upgrading the Greek tourism product but most importantly attracting higher quality incoming tourism.”
With reference to the aforementioned the tourism development minister explained the Greek National Tourism Organization would be present in 125 international exhibitions in 2008, compared with 114 until recently.
Mr. Spiliotopoulos explained the new international advertising campaign includes one main spot and nine thematically-linked spots that “answer to the specific and specialized needs of the potential visitors we aim to target.” The campaign continues to be aired on international channels such as CNN and BBC World, and new cooperation is anticipated with the Travel Channel, Euronews, Eurosport, large Internet sites and press networks worldwide.
The tourism development minister asserted that sport would also become a means of promotion. The tourism development ministry recently initiated a strategic exclusive cooperation with EuroLeague basketball. Mr. Spiliotopoulos explained, “Over the next four months the Greek tourism product would be promoted through EuroLeague in key markets such as Greece and Germany but also in potential markets such as Russia, Israel and Poland and even in competitive markets such as Turkey, Spain and Croatia.” He added, “Through this cooperation we promote our tourism product to 61 million potential visitors in Southern Europe, 175 million citizens in Eastern Europe, 21 million in Northern Europe and 20 million in Western Europe.”
With reference to investment Mr. Spiliotopoulos asserted, “Until December 31st, 2007, the ministry managed investment projects of some 690.4 million euros and national funds of some 247.2 million euros under the operational program ‘Competitiveness’.” He added, “Of all the projects undertaken by the ministry under the Third Community Support Framework 2000-2006, 2008 is to see the completion of hotel categorization with stars and keys allocation and the training of some 8,000 tourism employees at 97 Vocational Training Centers (K.E.K.) nationwide.”
Insofar as the Fourth Community Support Framework 2007-2013 is concerned, the tourism development minister explained the basic aim of all investment would be the upgrade in quality of the tourism product provided. The total amount of investment -European Social Fund and national funds- for the 13 peripheries amounts to 564 million euros. Mr. Spiliotopoulos asserted, “The priority of these investments is the environment and the promotion of our natural and cultural heritage, as in the case of Parnassos ski center that we aim to render into a prototype environmentally friendly ski center.”
With the aim to promote quality in services and our natural and cultural heritage, the tourism development minister has dedicated 2008 to the world-renowned Greek architect Aris Konstandinidis (1913-1993) and expressed the ministry’s desire to save GNTO heritage such as the process to render its rich image gallery into a digital form.
The tourism development minister also expressed his satisfaction with the progress of the Satellite Account. He explained, “As of January 1st 2008, border research is conducted as planned -in cooperation with of the National Bank of Greece and the Tourism Development Ministry- and with additional questions specifically targeted to the satellite account.”
According to Mr. Spiliotopoulos, internal travel surveys conducted since August 2007 and the completion of the tourism observatory and satellite account would give Greece a credible system to account for tourism movement because “If we want to help Greek tourism we must look at the true picture, make the correct diagnosis and move forward accordingly.”
Separately, in an interview with Reuters news agency the tourism development minister asserted, ‘Greece anticipates a reduction in incoming tourism in 2008 for the first time after three years of persistent increase, but the attraction of quality visitors will keep incoming tourism revenue high.”
Mr. Spiliotopoulos explained, “Greece aims to sell a specialized tourism product whereby a large chunk of mass tourism would be sacrificed in return for fewer—but higher caliber—visitors, thus bridging the gap between arrivals and tourism revenue.”
The tourism development minister continued to promote the new image of Greece at Les Thermalies exhibition in Paris where he spoke at the inauguration of the GNTO stand. During his stay in Paris Mr. Spiliotopoulos also met with French Minister of Culture Jack Lang and Secretary of State for Consumer Affairs and Tourism Luc Chatel with whom he agreed on the signing of a memorandum of tourism cooperation between the two countries.
The tourism development minister also attended FITUR exhibition in Madrid in which the GNTO participated for the first time. Mr. Spiliotopoulos spoke to the Spanish media and asserted, “2007 was an exceptional year for tourism movement from Spain to Greece and according to recent statistics there were 15 to 20 percent more Spanish tourists in Greece last year.” He explained, “One reason for this is the addition of low cost airlines but also an increased interest in Greece by Spanish travelers.”
During his stay in Madrid the minister met with his Spanish counterpart, Amparo Fernandez Gonzalez, with whom he discussed the need for an exchange of ideas on tourism issues by two countries that “are not competitors as the market dictates but two countries that must cooperate so they can face challenges such as a return to quality services and an escape from the traditional sea and sun model.”