Olga Kefalogiannis and Panos Livadas launche 2014-2015 tourism campaign – ‘Athens hotels occupancy rates downtrend has stopped,’ Hotel Association head says.
Athens.- Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni, speaking in an interview with the Italian economic newspaper “Il Sole 24 Ore”, said “we hope to break a new record in tourist arrivals this year.”
Kefalogianni noted, however, that the Greek side was not “obsessed with figures,” but sought to “gradually improve and differentiate our tourist product, to raise the value of our ‘brand’ and visitors’ trust, to reach as far as developing markets and increase direct air links.”
The Tourism minister confirmed that tourist arrivals in Athens, in the first quarter of 2014, increased by 30 percent and also stressed that “the main concern, at this phase, is for Greece to become established as an international tourist destination, a destination that can offer something special to everyone.”
Replying to a relevant question, Kefalogianni said “the decrease in VAT, particularly with regard to restaurants, was a decision that proved really useful.”
Lastly, the Tourism minister said “after two years, we believe that there is trust in the Greek economy and the Greek tourist industry again. Tourist agents, travel agencies and airline companies are showing special interest in additional links with Greek airports.”
The occupancy rates of Athens’ Hotels rose 25.4 percent to 64.1 percent in the first five months of the year compared to the same period last year, the head of the Athens-Attica Hotels Association Alexandros Vassilikos told ANA-MPA.
After noting that these numbers are not for celebration, he underlined that the downtrend of the past five years, which culminated in the shutting down of 87 hotels in Athens, has stopped.
The occupation rates in Athens have returned to the levels of 2004. For example today, Thursday, most of the hotels in Athens are full, a result of a large religious conference, with thousands of participants, he said.
Hotels in urban tourism destinations, Vassilikos noted, cannot achieve 100 percent occupancy rates throughout the season, but only some days of the year.
In any case, the rise of Athens as a tourist destination is obvious, he noted, adding that there are estimates for a further rise. He also referred to the prices of the hotels in Athens, which are the lowest in Europe. This year, for example, an average price for a room in Athens is 75 euros per night compared to 77 euros last year.
Greece’s tourism campaign strategy for 2014-2015 was unveiled in a special event on Wednesday by the Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) and the ministry of tourism.
The new campaign, prepared much sooner than usual, targets specific tourism markets abroad with an emphasis on internet tools and the needs of the country’s visitors.
Addressing the event, Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni said that the aspiration is to make Greece a hospitality paradise. She underlined that 2013 was a year of successes for Greece, noting that the ministry’s choices were vindicated and was proved that the tourism sector has turned the crisis into opportunity.
EOT general secretary Panos Livadas said that in the new year, Greece expects roughly 20 million tourists and, counting cruise tourism, their number will increase to 22 million.
Referring to the marketing strategy to be adopted by Greece in the next tourism period, he focused on the markets of China, Russia and Brazil.
Commenting on Brazil, Kefalogianni noted that a tourism promotion campaign is already underway in the city of Sao Paulo.
Livadas noted that the messages from China are very encouraging after the launch of a direct flight between Greece and Shanghai, while a direct flight between Athens and Beijing is being considered by tour operators in China.
Prospects, as regards the Russian market, are very promising based on visa issuance requests that record an increase of 65 pct compared with 2012.
The 100th anniversary of the first organised tourism campaign by Greece was also marked during the event with a rare footage screening.