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Greek tourism industry is globaly competitive March 5, 2008

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Athens International Airport helped Greece score points in the global tourism competitiveness report.

Greece’s tourism industry has become slightly more competitive on a global scale, despite a slide in the quality of healthcare and safety levels offered by the country, according to a report made public yesterday. Tourism is one of Greece’s most crucial industries, accounting for about a fifth of annual economic growth and almost 20 percent of jobs.

A Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, prepared by non-profit group World Economic Forum (WEF), showed Greece had climbed two places to position No 22 from 2007, out of a total of 130 countries. Switzerland took position No 1, followed by Austria and Germany.

Greece scored well in points given for airport infrastructure and human resources and was given top marks for the priority given to the industry, according to WEF. On the downside, the country slipped from position No 3 to 16th place regarding health and hygiene services. A lower score was also given regarding safety and security, placing Greece in 31st position, versus No 18 last year.

Commenting on the report, the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) said tourism is not solely reliant on factors strictly relating to the industry. “The competitiveness of tourism is the result of total government action for each country and not exclusively on the Tourism Ministry,” SETE said.

The conservative government set up a separate Tourism Ministry after being elected in March 2004, in a move seen as helping to give the sector a higher position in state policy.

The WEF report also pointed out the growing importance of environmentally friendly policies in tourism.

Greece is set to “do very well” this summer March 5, 2008

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Greece looks set to become one of the top tourist destinations for 2008.

05-03-08_greece.jpg  According to online tour operator lastminute.com, the company is already starting to get bookings for the summer period and reservations are likely to increase in the six weeks leading up to the main summer departure dates.

John Bevan, Managing Director of lastminute.com UK, noted that Greece in particular is looking likely to perform well this summer. “We are expecting Greece to do very well this summer as prices are particularly competitive” he commented.

The Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises has predicted that arrivals in the country will reach 19.4 million by the year 2010.

Record number of US visitors for Greece in 2007 February 4, 2008

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US tourist arrivals to Greece hit a record number last year, according to data provided by the Athens International Airport (AIA), collated in a quantitative and qualitative survey on the profile of American tourists.

Arrivals from the US for any reason recorded an increase of 34 percent compared to 2006, while the number of US vacationers arriving at Athens Airport rose by 13.5 percent.

The US market – along with those of Germany, Britain and Italy – is among the most profitable for Greece’s tourism sector, in terms of either number of arrivals or foreign exchange income. The impressive rise in tourist numbers from the US started in 2005 and continued for the next two years.

Unlike other traditional tourism markets which were not greatly influenced by the Olympics, the Athens 2004 Games made a major contribution to the increase in the number of arrivals from the US.

In addition to the overall promotion of Greece during the 2004 Games, safety concerns were also allayed. Feelings of security are taken into serious consideration primarily by US visitors when choosing a holiday destination.

In addition, an important contribution to rising arrivals has been the considerable funds spent on advertising Greece as a tourist destination in the US market, as well as the country’s upgraded participation in international fairs and exhibitions.

As for 2008, concerns about tourism are focused on the rising appreciation of the euro against the US dollar. This, naturally, is an issue faced by all European destinations, as it intensifies competition amid efforts to claim larger shares from the US tourism market.

In contrast, Greece’s closest competitor, Turkey, has no reason to worry about currency considerations. Security seems to be the greatest problem US visitors face in that country. However, such a development necessitates the launch of an intensive advertising campaign in the US also this year in order to maintain the rising numbers of US visitors to Greece.

Arrivals of US visitors to Greece in 2006 recorded an increase of approximately 400 percent compared to 2005. In 2007, 416,381 arrivals via direct flights were recorded from the US, against 319,146 one year previously.

The survey carried out by AIA on the US market shows that 435,490 Americans who arrived at Athens Airport in 2007 stated they were coming to Greece for a vacation, compared to 383,890 in 2006.

AIA communication and marketing director Giorgos Karamanos says an increase in air transport capacity – with new airlines connecting Athens with US cities – has helped the continuing rise in US arrivals.

Last summer, 79 percent of US visitors said they had come to Greece for a vacation (76 percent in 2006), 11 percent said they came to visit relatives and friends (13 percent in 2006) and 10 percent reported that they were on a business trip (11 percent in 2006).

Their stay in Greece increased by one day, to 16, of which six were spent in Athens. Most US visitors held a college degree, while the average amount spent by Americans in Greece was much higher than any other foreign visitor group. Their numbers were evenly split between men and women.

The vast majority of tourists from the US stated as their place of residence New York, followed by Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington and Philadelphia.

Government and tourism professionals targeting higher-quality arrivals from the UK November 14, 2007

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The Tourism Development Ministry wants to attract quality tourism from the British market, sharing this goal with the Greek private tourism industry, Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos said yesterday.

Spiliotopoulos is currently in London, heading the Greek delegation to World Travel Market Show, along with Hellenic Association of Tourism and Travel Agencies (HATTA) President Yiannis Evangelou. In 2005, Greece received 2.7 million British tourists, a figure that dropped to 2.6 million in 2006, while the decline is projected to continue this year.

The target of the private tourism industry is to attract high-income visitors. Evangelou said that the UK tourism market is a leader in Europe not only in terms of production but also in competitive tricks and other novel ideas. “The trick, for instance, that says, ‘Come to the airport and we will send you for a week’s vacation in Greece; we’ll tell you where only at the very last minute, for just 49.90 pounds,’ addresses the lower end of the market.”

According to Evangelou the UK has a tourism clientele with other interests and preferences, too, which Greece has not yet targeted in any methodical, systematic fashion. These people do not go to places that sell out through offers for cheap vacation. This clientele is interested in cruises, group or corporate trips, conferences, cultural visits, travel in less popular months, and certainly generates more revenue per head.

He added that in the UK, as in the rest of Europe, priority is now being given to the protection of the environment and the use of destinations renowned for their natural beauty as well as the environmental regulations that protect them from catastrophes of various types.

“It is obvious that now, more than ever, the new minister and all of us tourism professionals must proceed with a specific plan, redefining our targets in the UK market, by moving from cheap packages to specialized and quality ones,” said Evangelou.

Spiliotopoulos also met yesterday with officials from low-cost airline Ryanair who expressed their interest in Greece. “We are in a phase where this process is maturing, discussions continue, although we are not so interested in the numbers of visitors but in their quality; what they leave behind and how they go; whether they leave as ambassadors of Greece, that is what has the greatest value for us,” said the Minister.

Helicopter emergency drop November 14, 2007

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Emergency food and medical aid flown to isolated Antikythera

Emergency food and medical supplies were transported by rescue helicopter to the small island of Antikythera, southern Greece, cut off from the mainland for 11 days because of a ferry workers dispute, authorities said yesterday.

The Merchant Marine Ministry said supplies were flown to Kythera and Antikythera by Super Puma helicopter. Striking workers from state-subsidized ferry services to the islands said they started their protest after not receiving their salaries for two months. Sources said a solution to the dispute was likely late yesterday after the owner of the shipping operator obtained the necessary funds to pay workers.

Greece offers new experience for the creative class in tourism November 13, 2007

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Tourism Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos yesterday inaugurated the Greek National Tourism Organization’s pavilion in London’s World Trade Market.

He said Greece is targeting in particular the so-called creative class, that is the 10 percent of tourists who seek new, genuine experiences, and aims to become established among the top destinations worldwide. This year’s promotion campaign is titled ‘Greece, the New Experience.’

Separately, the Panhellenic Hoteliers’ Association said it is promoting the conversion of hundreds of small hotels into luxury boutique units.

Related Links > www.visitgreece.gr

Airlifts for islanders examined November 13, 2007

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The Merchant Marine Ministry is considering flying basic food items by military helicopter to the small island of Antikythera, southern Greece, after the only boat that transports supplies to the area stopped trips to the island, according to sources.

The Myrtidiotissa passenger ferry boat, which belongs to ANEN Lines, stopped its route to the island more than a week ago, leaving the island’s 45 residents without food and medical supplies. Antikythera is located 20 miles off Kythera, south of the Peloponnese. Residents have called for the immediate reinstatement of the boat routes, as the island has been cut off from the country’s largest port, Piraeus, and the Peloponnese.

Skai Television and Radio reported that the boat operator has been late in paying its staff and is seeking a 1-million-euro boost in government grants before restoring the transport route. Greece subsidizes a number of ferry routes to remote islands around the country.