New York.- Greek island of Mykonos was awarded as the best European island by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler, the world’s most influential tourist magazine. The award was received on Monday night, during a ceremony at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York, by the Minister of Tourist Development of Greece, Dimitris Avramopoulos. In addition to Mykonos, the Elounda Resort in Crete was amongst the three finalists for best European resort.
In his short speech, after receiving the award, Dimitris Avramopoulos thanked the organizers and the readers of Conde Nast for the honor.
“Tourism is not only business, but also what our world needs for solidarity, freedom, discovering and understanding other cultures and civilizations”, he said.
He also mentioned that besides Mykonos, Greece has another 3,000 islands and invited the American public to visit the country of Gods.
Greek tourism development minister was also the key note speaker at a forum organised on Sunday by Conde Nast Traveler. He pointed out that although American tourists are “particularly demanding”, Greece, with the comparative advantages if offers, has been declared as the most popular tourist destination for US citizens.
The event, held at a central Manhattan hotel, was attended by American publishers, corporate CEOs, representatives of travel periodicals, officials of the largest tour operators in the US, and officials of the international business, investment and tourism communities.
Apart from Avramopoulos, who is accompanied on his US visit by president of the National Tourism Organisation of Greece (NTOG) Aristides Kalogeropoulos-Stratis, other speakers included Edwin (Ed) Fuller, president and managing director of J.W. Marriott International Lodging, US-based cruiseship line Crystal Cruises president Gregg Michel, and Hong Kong-based US carrier Cathay Pacific Airways senior vice president for the Americas Tom Wright.
Avramopoulos said that the comparative advantages provided by Greece as an international tourism destination included high quality of services provided, the value-for-money ratio of the product offered, and the importance of Greek civilisation as a common legacy and means for inter-cultural rapprochement among peoples.
He also outlined the changes recently being advanced by the government, which aim at “further increasing” the competitiveness of the tourism product and Greece’s evolution into an “international tourism model”.
Replying to questions, Avramopoulos gave a comprehensive overview of the services, prospects, advantages and beauty offered by Greece not only to tourists but also to prospective investors in the tourism sector.
Questioned on the repercussions of terrorism on tourism development in Greece, Avramopoulos noted that “terrorism is not a local or regional phenomenon, but an international problem, and its psychological impact affects the entire world”.
He cited as an example the terrorist attacks last summer in Egypt and Britain, which resulted in a 10-15 percent decline in tourism arrivals in Greece for a period of 10 days.
However, the minister added, “2005 was a very successful year for our country in terns of attracting tourists due to its exceptional safety conditions”.
He said foreign tourists consider Greece to be very safe, and the successful hosting of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, the measures that had been taken, but also the Greek society, which presents the lowest crime rate in all of Europe, were contributing factors to that perception.
With respect to American tourists, Avramopoulos said that they were a “very demanding public which, according to surveys, consider Greek culture as the main reason for visiting our country”.
On the other hand, he said, Greeks were friendly towards Americans, given that many Greeks have family ties with the US.
Referring to his ministry’s upcoming promotional campaign in the US, Avramopoulos said that it would be “large-scale” and would not be limited only to major American cities, as had been last year’s campaign.
He further exchanged thoughts and experiences with the delegates and sought their advice so that all together, through boosting tourism, they could contribute to global growth, peace and stability.
Taking the podium after Avramopoulos, Fuller said that China has become the “primary field” for the promotion of the Marriott chain, adding that significant progress had been achieved in market research, which aimed at better serving the customers in the field of recreational tourism and professional travel (business trips).
Michel, in turn, stressed the important role played by geopolitics in Crystal Cruises’ strategic planning.
Finally, Wright outlined the efforts being made by Cathay Pacific to improve its airline services.
On Sunday night, Avramopoulos was the guest of honour at a dinner hosted by the Conde Nast Traveler magazine, which was attended by officials of the US tourism industry and media.