Thomas Cook expects to send three million tourists to Greece this year, up more than one third on two years ago, the UK tour operator’s CEO Peter Fankhauser said on Tuesday.
“I’m proud to say that we are the number one holiday company operating out of Europe into Greece and by the end of this season we expect to bring about three million holidaymakers to this fantastic destination,” Fankhauser said on Tuesday during a press conference held on the occasion of the official launch of Thomas Cook’s new own-brand hotel concept named “Cook’s Club” in Hersonissos on Crete.
According to the tour operator’s 2018 Holiday Report, Greece is the second most popular destination for British holidaymakers this year.
Continued investment in Greece
During the press conference, held with Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura, Fankhauser underlined that the company is committed to continued investment in Greece. This year Thomas Cook is investing 150 million euros in operating expenses and capital expenditures in Greece, a 22 percent rise from 2016.
“From our side that is a big commitment to Greece… We are seriously interested in developing this destination… We are a serious partner for the Greek tourism industry,” he said.
In the last two years alone, Thomas Cook has added more than 34 new routes and opened up four new destinations in Greece, including Northern Greece.
The new Cook’s Club in Hersonissos, is the latest addition to Thomas Cook’s 180 own-brand portfolio and one of 47 Thomas Cook own-brand hotels in Greece. With the first of the new brand opening in Greece, Thomas Cook aims to have 10 to 15 Cook’s Clubs by Summer 19.
The launch of Cook’s Club follows the success of Thomas Cook’s boutique lifestyle brand Casa Cook, which also launched first in Greece, opening on Rhodes in 2016 with the second property added in 2017 on Kos. A third Casa Cook is scheduled to open in September in Chania.
The company employs 1,050 people locally across its three own-operated hotels and its in-destination customer support and commercial teams.
Thomas Cook invites hoteliers to partner
Fankhauser also said that Thomas Cook hopes to accelerate the growth in its own-brand hotel portfolio in Greece with its new hotel investment fund launched this past spring.
“We are keen to talk to potential partners who are looking for hotel management agreements and franchise arrangements as well as owners of hotels in prime sun and beach locations that we can acquire and refurbish before re-launching as one of our portfolio of eight hotel brands,” he said.
Moreover, Fankhauser requested that the Greek Tourism Ministry help to facilitate investments of foreign companies in Greece and underlined the importance of quality infrastructure to the tourism industry.
“We want the Greek government to develop further the infrastructure of airports, roads and what customers can expect in terms of quality in airports and transfers… We want to continue our relationship to market the destination Greece in all our 16 source markets in Europe and possibly – in the future – out of China, where we just invested in a new joint venture in outgoing tourism.”
When asked by a journalist if Greece can be considered a competitive destination considering the high taxes tourism professionals are called to pay.
“Greece is really competitive and a good product… Of course a company always says taxes should be low as possible but there is a limit… What is asked for in terms of infrastructure has to be financed,” he said, adding that if the government invests well, what it gets as an income is acceptable.
2.3m Thomas Cook travel packages booked to Greece to date
On her part, Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura highlighted the strong relationship Greece has with Thomas Cook and referred to the tour operator as an “important partner” in Greek tourism’s continued growth.
“Over the last three years we have built a strategic partnership with Thomas Cook for new Greek destinations to be included within its programs and the summer season to be extended in the country’s popular destinations,” the minister said, adding that to date 2.3 million travel packages are booked to Greece this summer via Thomas Cook, up 16 percent compared to the same period in 2017 and 47 percent more than in 2016.
In addition, Greece is at the forefront of Thomas Cook’s sustainability drive. Take up of the Travelife certification scheme – a supply chain management tool for hoteliers to improve their social, economic and environmental impact – is higher in Greece than in any other Thomas Cook destination.
“We are pleased to confirm our first Casa Cook property on Rhodes, has been awarded Gold Travelife accreditation in June,” he said.