By Nikos Krinis
WTM London, a major event that brings together the worldwide travel and tourism industry, took place for the 38th year with an attendance of some 51,500 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media.
According to an annual survey released at WTM, Greece’s tourism has seen a bumper year in 2017 and the prospects for 2018 are even more positive. “It is encouraging to see Greece rated so highly by the travel trade when it comes to plans for business conversations and deals,” WTM London’s Paul Nelson, said while presenting the Forecast Forum Industry Report on the first day of WTM London last week.
A report by Euromonitor International presented at WTM London, said that tourism to Greece has performed strongly this year, thanks to a shift away from less stable destinations. “A familiar picture is forming, where the substitution effect means that cities in relatively quiet and stable countries are profiting from unrest in other countries,” the report says. “Spain, Greece and Italy are performing strongly, as they offer a similar climate to affected countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia.”
The Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) expects a record-breaking 30 million international visitors to Greece for 2017 – up 7 percent year-on-year.
For the last two years, Greece’s growth has been nearly twice the global industry average of 3.9 percent. The World Travel & Tourism Council estimates that tourism in 2017 will help boost the Greek economy by 6.9 percent – supporting nearly one million jobs and representing 20 percent of the country’s GDP.
Moreover, during the exhibition, it was estimated that Brexit has not negatively influenced the travel plans of the Brits for Greece in 2018, while the recent adjustment of the sterling exchange rate to the euro at higher levels appears positive for the competitiveness of Greece and other Mediterranean destinations.
Early bookings to Greece from UK market on the up
One of the main conclusions for Greece from this year’s WTM London was that initial data regarding incoming UK tourists is showing an upward trend. According to industry professionals, in some cases early bookings for the 2018 season by the UK market is showing double digit growth.
On his part, the president of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), Yiannis Retsos, underlined that the bookings in question are a sample of the total made every year from the UK market, which do not guarantee a solid forecast for the whole tourism period.
“Τhe UK market is marked by a high percentage of online bookings throughout the year. This is a further reason for the need of many effective actions to take place to ensure Greek tourism’s competitiveness,” Retsos said in a statement.
The positive signs in any case are of particular importance, as the UK market is the second largest inbound tourism market for Greece.
Positive outlook for 2018 by Greek tourism minister
Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura gave a positive outlook for 2018 on the opening day of WTM London.
“From our meetings and negotiations with tour operators and airlines, early bookings have started with double-digit growth, tourism packages are increasing to popular but also new Greek destinations, new flights are being added and new routes are launching,” the minister told a packed press conference.
During the three days of WTM London, Minister Kountoura held a series of meetings with key players of the UK travel and tourism market, aiming to promote Greece as a 365-day destination. She held discussions with representatives of airlines and leading travel groups — including TUI, Thomas Cook and JET2 — that are all increasing their travel packages for the 2018 season. Kountoura also met with the heads of the specialized travel agencies Sunvil Holidays, Planet Holidays, Ionian and Aegean Island Holidays, Cyclon Holidays, Hidden Greece, Neilson and Olympic Holidays. During the meetings, the companies informed her of their plans for next season that include the addition of new Greek destinations in their British tourism programs and tourist-themed products.
During the WTM expo, Minister Kountoura met with tourism ministers from other countries and also held a meeting with Martin Barth, president and CEO of the World Tourism Forum Lucerne. She discussed details on the 6th World Tourism Forum Lucerne Think Tank, which will take place in Greece next year in Costa Navarino in the Peloponnese.
Moreover, according to the tourism ministry, a high interest for new Greek destinations was expressed by UK travel professionals.
WTM honors revamped Greek stand
Greece’s revamped stand, manned by the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), was a winner of this year’s best stand awards at the WTM London 2017. The Greek venue (EU1200, EU1250) won the “Best for Business” stand award.
As every year, the GNTO stand hosted a number of exhibitors including representatives of hotels, regions and travel companies from across the country and its islands who networked, negotiated and conducted deals. This year the GNTO hosted 70 Greek coexhibitors.
During the three days of the WTM London, the GNTO stand hosted a series of events for foreign journalists, bloggers and travel professionals, including a tribute to Greek gastronomy.
South Aegean Region welcomed WTM attendees
The South Aegean Region will once again gave visitors to the WTM London a grand welcome once they reached the ExCeL Center entrance. For the third consecutive year, a digital pyramid consisting of electronic screens played high quality videos starring the islands of the Cyclades and the Dodecanese.
The South Aegean Region this year hosted 22 Aegean islands, giving them the chance to promote their tourism product to professionals from different parts of the world.
Greek companies, regions & destinations @ WTM London 2017
During WTM London 2017, Minister Kountoura visited the stands of Greek exhibitors — representatives from regions, travel agencies and tour operators — who informed her of increasing numbers regarding early bookings from the UK market.
Moments @ WTM London 2017
The Greek Travel Pages (GTP) was an official media partner of WTM London 2017.
For GTP’s WTM London 2017 Special feature, press here.