By Nikos Krinis
“Culture, heritage, good experiences and very authentic.” Those were the words travel giant TUI Group’s CEO, Friedrich Joussen, used to describe Greece during a reception on Thursday at the Acropolis Museum in Athens, held to celebrate the company’s longlasting partnership with the country.
“I think we have been quite successful together. When you look at the development of tourism in Greece and at the same time how much it is driven by our guests, it is very much an alignment,” TUI’s CEO told GTP Headlines.
Greece is ranked second among TUI’s most popular air travel destinations after Spain.
Some 2.5 million customers of TUI vacationed in Greece during the 2017 season, contributing to the country’s tourism record this year, which is estimated at 28.5 million arrivals overall.
“Greece is a very important destination for us, our customers love to come here… We are counting 40 years of presence in the country,” he added.
TUI to meet with Greek PM
On Friday, October 6, Joussen will have a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to discuss further strengthening TUI’s relationship with Greece. The two parties are expected to exchange views on improvements needed in the country’s tourism infrastructure (such as airports) and explore ways to extend the season. Investments are also said to be included on the agenda.
Joussen told GTP Headlines that TUI Group is interested in investing more in the country and will move faster if the conditions are right.
Interest to go beyond the peak season
TUI has “a typical short season” to sell its product in Greece, around 210 days, from April to November.
“Turkey and Spain have longer seasons,” the company’s CEO underlined.
The Group this year launched new travel packages, designed especially for outside the peak season, in the months March/April and October/November.
“The question is what can we jointly do to prolong the season,” he said, adding that a master plan for a longer season in Greece is needed.
“We are here to stay and have a commitment to the country. We are 40 years here and we will be another 40 years and maybe longer… We are ready to invest. We are a strong partner to Greece.”
Kountoura: TUI has strategically chosen Greece as a partner
The reception was held on the sidelines of TUI Group’s Board of Directors meeting which took place in the Greek capital, the first time away from its base in Germany.
“I think this marks the excellent cooperation we have with the company, which really has strategically chosen Greece as a partner,” Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura told GTP Headlines, adding that during the last two years TUI has significantly boosted its presence in the destination by increasing capacity, launching new products and investing in the hospitality sector.
“I am very happy about the new investments they are considering to make in Greece… Such important investments also help us because tourism is 20 percent of GDP and one million direct and indirect jobs,” she said.
TUI operates 32 of its own hotels in Greece. In terms of new investments, the group recently purchased a plot of land on Crete as the site for its Robinson Club brand (the third in the country), while a new TUI Sensatori brand hotel will open on Rhodes in early summer 2018.