Tourist destinations that will play a prominent role in the future are those who will strive to develop strong marketing actions and introduce new technologies, was the outcome of the seventh annual Tourism & Development Conference of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises held recently.
Professor Geoffrey Lipman, the assistant secretary general of the UNWTO, referred to Greece as a country that has shown a remarkable ability in the past to regenerate tourism since “it has strong physical and cultural advantages.
“If Greece desires to lead/monitor the developments/alterations in world tourism, a selective expansion must be followed by the development of its cultural heritage with the protection of the environment as its absolute priority,” Mr. Lipman stressed.
In reference to how tourism policies adapt to changing demand patterns and globalized competition, the director of international relations of TUI, Guenter Ihlau, analyzed the new consumer trends and their impact on governmental policies for tourism.
“Flexibility and countless destination options are the main trends noticed in consumer behavior, while the value for money, environmental sensitivity and diversity distinguish their choices,” he said. Mr Ihlau added that Greece occupies first place with 67 percent in consumer preferences according to a survey on European travel attitudes and is the second top destination for TUI.
The second session of the conference analyzed public and private sector partnerships in the area of tourism marketing (market research, promotion, advertising) and the cases of the UK and France were mentioned as examples.
Experts offered their expertise on how such partnerships can be applied in Greece.
Lady Cobham, the deputy chairman of the UK’s official tourist board VisitBritain, analyzed the operation of the board and underlined that the main requirement for success is the development of synergies between the public and private sector.
Michel Peyre, regional director of the French tourist office Maison de la France -funded 50 percent by the government and 50 percent by private sector- presented the structure, operation and strategy of the office that deals exclusively with the promotion of France as a tourist destination abroad.
In his closing speech at the conference, Tourism Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos estimated that 2009 would be a difficult year for Greek tourism.
“In 2009 the Greek tourism leadership will turn towards new but also up-and-coming markets such as Russia, Romania, Bulgaria and China,” he said.