Representatives of leading Russian tour operators recently briefed Greek tourism officials on their plans for 2016 — where Greece is concerned — and on the flow of Russian tourists to the country. Possible collaborations between the two sides were also explored.
The meetings took place recently at the Greek Tourism Ministry in Athens between representatives of Tez tour, Coral, Pegas Travel and Anex Tour and Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura, Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) Secretary General Dimitris Tryfonopoulos; Crete’s Commissioner of Tourism, Michalis Vamiedakis; and South Aegean Region Vice Governor of Tourism, Marietta Papavasileiou.
Among the main topics discussed was the visa issue, in regards to which Minister Kountoura assured that more visa centers would operate soon and that more staff would be assigned to consular services to cater to the growing demands in terms of visa documentation.
Also discussed was the possibility of extending Greece’s tourism season by adding more flights to/from Greece in April, May and October, launching collaborations between the GNTO and Russian tour operators and developing religious tourism as well as other alternative forms of tourism between the two countries.
On their side, the Russian tour operators expressed their concerns regarding the current economic situation in Russia due to the devaluation of the ruble, which has made travel to Europe more expensive for Russian tourists who in turn choose to travel in Russia to avoid high prices.
However, the tour operators expressed willingness to cooperate with the Greek side through targeted actions in order to support fruitful activities.
Both sides also agreed on communicating the “Cross-Year Greece & Russia” events to Greek and Russian travellers. The cross-year was decided following a bilateral agreement between the two countries last year, and will feature a series of special events across both countries promoting Greek and Russian culture, traditions and values.
Following the meetings, Crete’s Commissioner of Tourism, Michalis Vamiedakis, said he believed that arrival numbers from Russia will be on a satisfactory level this season.
“Soon similar meetings with leading tour operators from other countries will be scheduled in order for initiatives to be taken to support bookings to Greece”, he said, adding that due to the volatile economic environment a surge of last minute bookings should be expected for Greece.