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Op-Ed: Becoming Part of the Joint National Effort to Restart Greek Tourism

Op-Ed by Aspa Palimeri, Country Manager,
Greece, Cyprus & Malta, Mastercard

Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are currently going through a very critical period in regard to the recovery of the economy and dealing with the consequences brought by this immense and unprecedented crisis.

For Greece a major challenge that has risen is the major hit brought to the tourism sector, with a thoroughly planned and coordinated re-start becoming a top priority.

For Mastercard, tourism is at the heart of our core business, as we enable travelers around the globe to have a better, more ‘careless’ travelling experience and enjoy everything a destination has to offer, using the payment solution they rely on in their every-day life.

But this is just the starting point. Tourism has a special place in our hearts, which is why over the years we have developed many solutions that meet the needs of the industry, building significant expertise. With faith in the power of public-private partnerships, it was only natural that we would become part of the national effort for the reboot of Greece’s tourism, contributing our know-how, tools and solutions and building synergies with institutional stakeholders of the sector.

One of our main advantages is that our proprietary tools can contribute to both strategic planning in tourism and the upgrade of the product offered. In regard to strategic planning, our main tool is Mastercard’s “Tourism Insights” platform, co-developed with Mabrian Technologies, through which anonymous data – deriving from the billions of transactions processed by our system, as well as from a variety of other sources, are collected and organized in a way that gives a comprehensive picture of the people visiting a destination.

Photo © GTP

These data shed light on a wide range of parameters, such as the countries of origin and demographics of (potential) visitors, their preferred activities, their spending, their perception of the destination and many more. The aforementioned data are of crucial importance nowadays, as institutions devising strategy for the tourism sector need to address audiences that did not constitute a top priority in the past, while also attract more affluent travelers and extend the tourism season.

It is exactly this type of data we are leveraging in our partnership with the Greek National Tourism Organization for the design and implementation of a joint communication campaign aiming to promote Greece as a tourism destination, among specific target markets.

Our collaboration with the GNTO started in January, with a campaign aiming to attract affluent travelers from the US and UK markets. With the results of the first campaign being more than positive, we are now working with the GNTO to apply the key findings and learnings obtained to new target audiences selected in accordance with the changes in travelling brought about by the recent pandemic crisis.

Moving to ways in which we can contribute to the upgrade of the country’s tourism product, we have worked closely with the Ministry of Tourism and are supporting them in the launch of “Visit Greece” mobile application. Besides its role as the official information hub on Greece, the application serves as a destination management tool connecting visitors to local merchants. On top of sponsoring the initiative, Mastercard enriches the app by offering its users a series of especially designed priceless experiences.

As of July 1 and through “Visit Greece” app, Greece became the new destination in Mastercard’s “Priceless Cities” portfolio, giving the opportunity to visitors to gain access to a series of experiences in six different areas that dominate their interests, such as culture and gastronomy. The experiences are designed in a way that makes us feel free and protected at the same time, and range from private visits to the Temple of Poseidon in Sounio to gastronomic walks and tastings of Greek wines and private screenings of Greek-themed movies at summer open air cinemas.

Attica, Sounio, Temple of Poseidon. Photo source: Visit Greece / Y. Skoulas

Temple of Poseidon, Sounion. Photo source: Visit Greece / Y. Skoulas

Still on the front of contributing to the effort for an upgraded tourism product, and as city travel is expected to play a pivotal role in extending the touristic period and boosting domestic tourism, we have established a strategic collaboration with the Municipality of Athens, on a program aiming to promote Athens as a year-round city break destination.

The program, under the name “Stay in Athens”, will be up and running in September, giving the opportunity to both Greek and foreign visitors to benefit from special offers and discounts for accommodation in some of the most beautiful hotels in Athens.

Furthermore, remaining loyal to our philosophy emphasizing the experience component in our initiatives, the offers will be accompanied by suggestions on a series of unique experiences, spanning from dining and entertainment, to self-care and relaxation.

© Maria Theofanopoulou

Athens, Greece. Photo © Maria Theofanopoulou

Coupled with the strong communications program, which we will underpin the program with, we expect it to reach wide audiences, thus creating significant benefits, in terms of both bookings and visibility, for the respective businesses.

Our involvement in tourism, through projects in partnership with institutional stakeholders, makes us both very happy and proud, so we promise there is more to come, as we strongly believe in the power of synergies and know we have a lot to contribute to the national effort for the restart of our country’s heavy industry and its day after.

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