The participation of US and Greek travel agents at the ASTA Destination Expo 2018 has exceeded expectations, according to the executives of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), organizer of the annual event, which is taking place in Athens between April 14 and 17.
Some 350 US travel agencies are currently taking part in the destination expo, while the Federation of Hellenic Associations of Tourist & Travel Agencies (FedHATTA), co-organizer of the event, estimates that around 1,100 B2B appointments took place on Monday afternoon between 500 Greek and US agents at the Hilton Hotel in Athens.
“The feedback we have received far is very positive. Agents went on tours before the event and they are now looking forward to the post-event tours, which will include many Greek islands as well as walking tours in Athens,” ASTA president and CEO Zane Kerby told GTP Headlines during a press conference on Monday.
United Airlines to resume flights from Newark to Athens
Kerby went on to note that apart from the US travel agents, Greece has also caught the attention of US carriers. “United Airlines is going to resume flights from Newark to Greece in May, and this is a very good sign,” he told reporters. It is noted that Emirates has launched year-round non-stop flights connecting Athens to New York.
According to ASTA executives, Athens, Mykonos, Crete, Rhodes, Santorini and most recently Ioannina and Thessaloniki top the preferences of American travelers. When traveling to Greece they are keen on discovering “hidden gems” – lesser known destinations. Furthermore, they are attracted by the destination’s sense of safety, authenticity, wellness services, water sports, culture and the wealth of new experiences offered.
“Once people see and learn it is easier to sell the destination,” ASTA Vice President Robert Duglin told GTP Headlines, adding that US travel agents have created a buzz on social media on Greece and its offerings.
“They are creating demand for the experiences they have had in Greece and this will be depicted in bookings, starting in 2018 and definitely in 2019 and 2020,” he underlined.
According to a survey carried out by ASTA, 98 percent of attendees of ASTA’s destination events plan to use the supplier contacts they gained for future bookings, 94 percent are likely to recommend the event to another agent, over half of members who visit destination events with ASTA say it has increased their sales to that destination and 77 percent of delegates expect to send clients to the host destination based on their experiences at the ASTA events.
Americans also tend to travel during winter, which coincides with the efforts to the Greek Tourism Ministry to make Greece a 365-days-a-year destination. “There are some interesting facts about traveling off season and one of them is the cost, which is very attractive,” Duglin added.
According to ASTA executives, the US is currently eleventh in terms of tourism arrivals in the Greek market, and fourth in terms of tourism spending.