With the traditional market of the United Kingdom showing growth, Greece is expecting a new record of British arrivals in 2018.
Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura and a Greek delegation recently returned from the World Travel Market (WTM) 2018 in London in “high spirits” based on the latest data of the UK market for Greece and the outcome of several meetings with key players of the British travel and tourism market.
Regarding the UK market’s role in Greece’s tourism performance, data showed that some 3.3 million British visitors preferred the destination this year – up 11 percent compared to 2017 – leading the ministry to refer to a new record of arrivals from Britain.
Moreover, an increase of 10 percent has already been recorded for 2019 early bookings for Greece by British travelers.
According to the ministry, Greece is now the second destination of choice for Britons worldwide, up one place from last year when the country was third in their travel preferences.
During the three days of WTM London, Minister Kountoura held a series of meetings with representatives of airlines and leading travel groups, including TUI, Thomas Cook and JET2, who said they were increasing their offers to Greece for the 2019 season.
The UK market is the second largest inbound tourism market for Greece after Germany.
Greek tourism 2018: Over 32 million visitors
Regarding Greece’s tourism performance in 2018 in general, the tourism ministry referred to a new all-time record year.
On the opening day of WTM London, Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura presented data regarding Greece’s tourism performance over the past four years, describing it as “beyond everyone’s expectations”.
According to the data presented, arrivals to Greece are up 33 percent compared with 2014, and in 2018 international visitor numbers are expected to exceed the ministry’s 32 million target (including cruise visitors), having smashed through the 30 million barrier in 2017. Two million air seats and 26,000 hotel beds have been added this year.
Greece’s tourism success and the country’s best practices were presented by the minister herself at a number of events held during the exhibition.
Greece on its way of becoming a 365-day Destination
Commenting on Greece’s positive tourism performance this year, Minister Kountoura told GTP Headlines that she expects 2019 to be another positive year.
“I think we will be ready in 2019 to be able to serve even more tourists, since this year we managed to take a very important step in becoming a 365-day destination,” the minister said.
Wanting to be more specific, Minister Kountoura underlined that the 2018 season began in March and is ending now, in November. “However, the winter season (January-March) during the last two years had a 40 percent increase in arrivals… We also see that in the last two years, the September-November period has been our best autumn performance of all times, so yes I believe that from 2018 we are on our way in establishing Greece as a 365-day destination,” she told GTP Headlines.
Moreover, the minister said that she is hoping for an even more dynamic performance in 2019 because Greece has the flights and is in new agreements with leading international tourism professionals.
“We are seeing airline companies, big and small, as well as tour operators with charters, announcing flights from very early. Therefore, I strongly believe that 2019 will be a very positive year fro Greek tourism,” she said, adding that the ministry aims to achieve this goal through its new development program.
Brexit and UK Bookings to Greece
Britain’s departure from the EU next year was one of the main topics of discussion throughout this year’s WTM London.
However, according to research presented by ForwardKeys on the first day of the exhibition, the booking behavior of British holidaymakers for EU destinations, including Greece, does not seem to currently have a “Brexit effect”.
“What we see at the moment is that people are still booking Greece for the summer of 2019,” Olivier Ponti, the VP of Insights for ForwardKeys, told GTP Headlines, adding that if it becomes very complicated for UK visitors to travel to EU destinations, probably there will be an impact.
On their part, Greek travel professionals said that they are concerned of how Brexit will develop in 2019 for travel and tourism. Alike the global travel industry, they are waiting to see how the January-March 2019 period – considered a critical time for the industry due to Brexit – will proceed.
Greece @ WTM London 2018: Highlights
As every year, the Greek stand (EU1000), manned by the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), 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.
Various happenings and surprises involving Greece took place on and of the Greek exhibition floor during WTM London 2018. GTP Headlines rounded up a couple for its readers.
- An interview of Minister Kountoura by CNN’s Richard Quest in the center of the Greek stand, attracted a large crowd of spectators. Quest questioned the Greek minister about the state of tourism in Greece this year and she analyzed the country’s success in the sector for the past four years.
- A special event was held to promote the destinations of the Ionian Sea through their unique culinary tradition. The stand also hosted a number of other Greek food events throughout the days of the exhibition.
- The South Aegean Region’s stand once again gained much attention for its concept of hosting its Cyclades and Dodecanese islands under one roof. The stand even won the title of Best Stand Design award for B2B meetings.
- The South Aegean Region also once again gave visitors to the WTM London a grand welcome once they reached the ExCeL Center entrance. For the fourth year, a digital pyramid consisting of electronic screens played high quality videos starring the islands of the Cyclades and the Dodecanese.
- While visiting the Greek stand guests also had their photo taken at the GNTO’s special photo booth with a Greek destination serving as a backdrop and also had the chance to “take” a trip to Greece through VR glasses.
- During Greece’s press conference, British best-selling author Victoria Hislop revealed that she is hoping to work with the GNTO to transform some of her short stories into films that will “introduce people to a different side of Greece”.
Greece “spotted” at WTM London 2018
Thanks to special promotional activities of the GNTO, Greece was “spotted” on and off the exhibition floor. The GNTO was also once again the sponsor of the WTM London International Media Center.
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 2018
Held on the fairgrounds of Excel in London, the World Travel Market is a major event that brings together the worldwide travel and tourism industry. It took place for the 39th year with an attendance of over 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media.
The Greek Travel Pages (GTP) was an official media partner of WTM London 2018.
For GTP’s WTM London 2018 Special feature, press here.