Greece expects another record year of tourism arrivals
The 49th edition of ITB Berlin, held in March at Messe Berlin in Germany, gave quite a promising outlook for the 2015 tourism season in Greece.
At the time of ITB, released data revealed that early bookings from the German market to Greece for the 2015 tourism season had already recorded a double-digit increase.
“Early bookings and the increase in scheduled flights to Greece indicate that the 24.5 million visitors that Greece welcomed in 2014 — including 2.5 million cruise ships arrivals — will be surpassed this year,” said Andreas Andreadis, president of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) during a press conference.
SETE expects a record of 25 million people to visit Greece this year, which corresponds to an additional 14 billion euros to the Greek economy.
In its closing report of ITB 2015, Messe Berlin included Greece among the “main travel destinations” to benefit from the prevailing positive mood for travel.
“Greece reported double-digit growth for the third year running and despite the controversy surrounding its national debt continues on the path to recovery,” Messe Berlin noted.
Greek Alternate Minister Elena Kountoura was present at ITB Berlin and had scheduled meetings with the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization Taleb Rifai, Berlin Mayor Michael Muller, major tour operators and travel journalists.
In her meeting with the UNWTO’s secretary-general she was informed that the organization’s network is available, if needed, for Greek tourism.
Mr. Rifai assured her that the UNWTO fully supports Greek tourism and invited her to a working meeting at the the organization’s headquarters in Madrid to examine tourism trends worldwide and discuss the launch of joint actions.
GNTO @ ITB Berlin 2015
Greece was represented at this year’s ITB with over 100 exhibitors that included Greek hoteliers, travel agencies, municipalities, regions and other service representatives of the tourism industry.
The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) — together with its co-exhibitors — held a number of events throughout the days of the exhibition and introduced Greece’s tourism products and presented its destinations to professionals and visitors.
Events included various cookery competitions with prize draws, the screening of short films of the Greek islands of the Northern Aegean and the presence of a caricaturist who gave professionals and visitors a “different look” of themselves.
- Expedia awards the GNTO for 2014 Destination Campaign
During ITB 2015, the GNTO was announced as one of the recipients of the 2014 EMEA Partner Awards of Expedia Media Solutions, the advertising division of the Expedia group. The GNTO was recognized by Expedia with the “2014 EMEA Destination Campaign of the Year” award for the “What’s your pleasure?” campaign.
B2B meetings between Greek and German professionals
On the business side and according to statements from tourism professionals and Greek regional representatives, the German market showed a great interest for the country and discussed strategies and other tourism-related issues for the coming season.
Exhibitors @ ITB 2015
Greek Travel Pages (GTP) – Maria Theofanopoulou, publisher of GTP, with George Grafakos, president of Aqua Vista Hotels (left) and Nikos Aspiotis, Corfu Tourism Consultancy Services (right).
According to Mrs. Theofanopoulou, despite all the publicity surrounding the country’s political scene, the feedback from German professionals on Greece was quite impressive this year and not only in regards to the country’s prospects but also for the arrivals expected this season.
“It was good to see that this year’s ITB had a very strong professional character as many meetings took place between Greek exhibitors and German trade visitors”, she said.
Grace Hotels – “The German market is obviously very important to all of our hotels and especially Greece”, Michael Halsall, director of sales and marketing of Grace Hotels, told GTP. The German market is currently not among the top three of Grace Hotels, but “more and more we develop more sales with the tour operators and the key luxury boutique travel agents”.
According to Mr. Halsall, the group is trying to enrich the experiences of German guests so they really feel a true sense of Greece and Greek hospitality. “And so far it’s good. The German numbers are up at our hotels.”
Grace Hotels is currently in the process a new hotel development, which will include residential villas, just outside Kalamata, south western Peloponnese in Greece. The hotel will comprise 125 rooms and suites plus up to 40 luxury residential villas, each with three, four or five bedrooms. Grace Kalamata is expected to open its doors in 2017. Mr. Halsall is pictured here with Danai Passa, sales executive of Grace Hotels.
Meli Tours – Dimitrios Melikokis, owner and managing director of Meli Tours, saw a satisfactory interest of the German market towards Greece this year. “In general there is cautious optimism in the air, but I see that our foreign partners want to promote Greece”, he told GTP. “Now, what the outcome will be — due to the political situation — we can not say for sure what will happen.” Based on B2B meetings at ITB, Mr. Melikokis said he expects his business to receive a 10 percent increase from the German market this year.
Meli Tours is a Greek company that offers extensive tourism solutions to tour operators and travel agents across the world. With advanced technological services — such as B2B Reservations System, Host 2 Host XML and White Labeled B2C IBE — Meli’s partners have access to various hotel and other types of accommodation across many popular regions in Greece and abroad. Mr. Melikokis is pictured here with Angelos Samolis, commercial manager for Meli Tours.
Bluegr Hotels & Resorts – “Our hotels are enjoying an upward and steady trend of bookings from Germany”, Gina Mamidakis, CEO of Bluegr Hotels & Resorts , told GTP. According to Ms. Mamidakis, the atmosphere at ITB was positive as well as the meetings she had with major German tour operators.
Bluegr Hotels & Resorts is a private family-owned company founded in 1985 by Ms. Mamidakis. The hotel and tourism company owns and operates three hotels in Crete (Minos Beach Art Hotel, Sensimar Minos Palace Hotel and Candia Park Village), one hotel in Athens (Life Gallery Athens), one hotel on Rhodes (Miramare Park Suites & Villas) and is the main shareholder of The Harmony Cruises that owns and operates the Luxury Mega Yacht and the Harmony G.
Mouzenidis Group – The Mouzenidis Group participated for the first time in ITB Berlin in an attempt to approach the German market. “This is our first time in western Europe. We have done much research on the area and held many meetings these days of the ITB”, George Alexander Tsiouplakis, manager of sales department for the western market, told GTP. Mouzenidis Group interests include carrier Ellinair and the company is in discussions to include Germany among its routes. “We are currently in discussions and there has been an interest by many to see how we can work on this and support the route… We are optimistic that in 2016 we will have a very good start”, he said. The Thessaloniki-based holding company active in travel services for some two decades is active in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Hungary and other Eastern European countries.
Deltanet Travel – For the ninth time in a row, Deltanet Travel exhibited successfully at ITB Berlin. The event was attended by the Deltanet management team who held meetings and strengthened partnerships with its main partners and explored business potentials with new clients.
According to Kostas Frantzis, chief operating officer, German buyers have shown a great interest to Greek destinations and prospects for the 2015 summer season continue to look very positive for the Greek tourism industry.
“Speaking for our business, we expect a 10 percent increase compared to last year when again we had a 10 percent increase compared to 2013”, he told GTP.
Deltanet was set up more than 10 years ago and has maintained incoming tourist services as its core business. Today it has an extended network of branches and affiliated offices in all major destinations in Greece and Cyprus.
Neptune Hotels – Resort, Convention Centre & Spa – Dimitris Bisas, room division manager of Neptune Hotels on Kos, noticed a high interest from German market in regards to Greece at ITB compared to previous years and data collected prior to the exhibition. Mr. Bisas said an increase is expected from the German side but it is possible that Greece’s political developments may slow things down. “In any case we hope to stay at this level or in the worst case to reach last year’s figures”, he told GTP.
At the end of this year’s tourism season, a partial renovation of rooms at Neptune will take place for the 2016 season. Neptune is located on the northern coast of Kos right on the sandy beach, 8 km to the international airport of Kos and 18 km from Kos with its harbor and many other historic sights.
MTS City Breaks – MTS this year is celebrating 10 years of sharing the world. “These have been 10 wonderful years of growth and we hope they turn into 100 years”, Stathis Miniatis, general manager, told GTP.
MTS City Breaks is a global supplier for on-line hotel accommodation, car rental, transfers and tours offering its services exclusively to travel agencies and tour operators. The company has developed a fully integrated, most complete and reliable content with the objective of providing its customers access to the best-priced hotel availability and product choice worldwide and the vision of becoming the most preferred, “one-stop on-line shop” regarding hotel accommodation, car rental, transfers and tours bookings, by the travel trade & tourism professionals. Mr. Miniatis (left) is pictured with Nicky Tzanetou, international sales manager, and Manos Psathas, sales executive.
Beleon Tours – Leonidas Dimitriadis, the president and CEO of Greek tour operator Beleon Tours (right), said he received positive messages from the German market. “The messages are positive but we need to wait to see what happens as it still a bit early for the season. We can not say more at this stage. At the end of March we will have a better picture of the situation.”
Beleon Tours provides services to travel agencies and individuals and is one of the leading tourism companies in Greece that services VIP guests, groups of tourists, organizes conferences, weddings and pilgrimage tours. The headquarters of the company are located in Thessaloniki. Beleon has offices in all major tourism regions in Greece: Rhodes, Crete, Kos, Corfu and Halkidiki Peninsula. The company also has an office in Moscow, Russia. Mr. Dimitriadis is pictured here with Nikolaos Christoulakis, development and contracting manager of Beleon Tours on Crete.
Manessis Travel – Andreas Manessis, president and CEO of Manessis Travel, informed GTP on the company’s new brochure for the Spring 2015 season that includes proposals for over 165 ideal destinations for getaways for March 25 (national holiday), Easter, May Day and the Agios Pnevmatos holiday.
Manessis has also announced the launch of a new department following the creation of “Mice & Dice” that services companies for MICE events in the country. According to Manessis, the new department comes to extend these services. With highly skilled and experienced partners, the new department “M Events & Productions”, equipped with advanced technology, will manage creative and technical issues in relation to congresses, conferences, corporate events, productions, exhibition stands, concerts, image processing (film direction, video production, creation of TV and radio programs), web design, graphics, 3D animation.
Electra Hotels & Resorts – Yiannis Tsakalos, marketing director at Electra Hotels & Resorts; Grigoris Tassios, president of the Halkidiki Hotel Association; and Maria Theofanopoulou, publisher of GTP. Electra Hotels & Resorts had a dynamic presence at this year’s ITB. According to Mr. Tsakalos, announcements regarding Electra Hotels should be expected soon.
Electra Hotels & Resorts is a Greek hotel chain, owning four hotels in strategic destinations: The Electra Hotel Athens and the Electra Palace Hotel Athens located in Syntagma and Plaka respectively; the Electra Palace Hotel, located in Ialyssos on Rhodes and the Electra Palace Hotel, located in Thessaloniki.
Greek destinations @ ITB 2015
City of Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) – During their latest promotion of the Greek capital at the ITB, municipal authorities participated in a series of B2B meetings, distributed travel material and promoted the 3rd Travel Trade Athens, set to take place on April 26-27. For the first time, Athens also featured at the ITB’s Pink Pavillion as an ideal Gay & Lesbian tourism choice. As part of the municipality’s promotional plan to give Athens a competitive edge was this year’s decision to sponsor the LGBT Media Networking event during the ITB 2015 as well as to submit a bid to host the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association’s (IGLTA) world congress in 2018, attracting LGBT professionals and market experts from over 25 countries. (Full story)
Thessaloniki Hotels Association (THA) – The ongoing promotional campaign of the Thessaloniki Hotels Association, which centers around history, entertainment, gastronomy and culture, was presented at this year’s ITB. Besides promoting the northern port city of Thessaloniki as a leading city break destination with a wide variety of offerings, the association also aims to attract German holidaymakers to the surrounding regions, including the Halkidiki peninsula, Pieria and Imathia. In this direction, THA members met with travel journalists, social media experts, tour operators and tourism intelligence authorities during the ITB’s Speed Networking event, and participated in a series of B2B meetings in order to further business interests. (Full story)
Halkidiki Hotel Association – At ITB, the Halkidiki Hotel Association authorities reached out to German tourism sector professionals with the goal to cement existing ties with local operators and create long-lasting bonds that will pave the way for collaborations in tourism. In this direction, Halkidiki Hotel Association president Grigoris Tassios and Halkidiki Deputy Prefect Ioannis Yiorgos met with Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura to discuss the promotion and facilitation of travel through northern Greece and it serving as a major road link to Central Europe. Ms Kountoura made a commitment to examine the issue in the coming months. In the meantime, the HTO participated in the Culinary Destination Circle event at ITB, where it had the chance to promote the region’s local products. (Full story)
Municipality of Hersonissos– “Hersonissos and Crete in general have repeat visitors. I know visitors that have come to the island over 30 times… That says something”, Hersonissos Deputy Mayor for Tourism Efthimios Mountrakis told GTP. As part of its ongoing strategy to promote the diverse offerings of the region and inform German tour operators of alternative options available, Crete’s Municipality of Hersonissos participated in this year’s ITB. Hersonissos authorities met with tourist professionals from the German market in efforts to foster stronger ties and pave the way for future partnerships. (Full story)
During ITB, Hersonissos also announced its latest collaboration with Google Developers Group on an innovative virtual traveller project. Visitors to the municipality’s stand were “transferred” to Hersonissos via the Greek Virtual Reality Project (GVR) “Google Cardboard” with their virtual experience enhanced by 3-D sound. (Full story)
Region of Epirus – In efforts to boost Epirus’ presence in international sector events, regional authorities participated in this year’s ITB with a stand and arranged B2B meetings between local entrepreneurs and German operators. Examining the feed-back from their participation in international shows in Israel, Berlin and Sweden, the regional authorities have decided to heighten their participation in sector events across the globe with stands and promotional material in order to effectively promote the region and its businesses through B2B meetings, networking and partnerships between travel operators. On the sidelines of the ITB, the Region of Epirus organized a tasting event featuring local products, including its award-winning cheese and wine. Pictured are Pandora Nemtsoudi from Encore advertising agency; Giorgos Tassos, president of the Ioannina Hotel Association; Thomas Begas, Mayor of Ioannina; and Dimitris Siolos; the regional authority’s executive secretary.
Mykonos / Mykonos Accommodation Center – The gay friendly hotspots of Mykonos was presented to the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans Gender) travel market at this year’s ITB by Greek travel agency Mykonos Accommodation Center at a stand in cooperation with LifeThink, a web design and social media agency, in the Pink Pavilion. The Mykonos Accommodation Center distributed a very tasteful book/catalog containing all of the island’s gay-friendly hotspots including bars, clubs, restaurants and hotels. “We had many people who know Mykonos, who have come to Mykonos, come to the stand seeking more information. Many media outlets, various web sites from overseas offices from pretty much everywhere came to see our book”, John Van Lerberghe, owner and manager of the Mykonos Accommodation Center, told GTP. An IGLTA member for the past 20 years, the Mykonos Accommodation Center represented the following Greek hotels at ITB Berlin: Semeli, Elysium, Greco Philia Suites, Mykonian Mare Hotel and Myconian K Hotels. Pictured is Mr. Van Lerberghe with Aphrodite Dellaporta, strategic relationships executive of LifeThink agency.
Moments @ ITB 2015
Coco-Mat Berlin event