Interview with the GNTO President
The Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) is the governmental department for the promotion of Greece as a tourism destination. Greek News Agenda spoke with its President Elisavet Hatzinikolaou.
How does the current situation in Greece affect incoming tourism and what is the GNTO response strategy?
The recent economic situation has proved once again, that Greece as a tourist destination is a powerful brand. By nearly the end of June, there was an impressive increase in demand for holidays in Greece.
For a short period, the demand was pending and now all markets seem to be adjusting rapidly. Our aim was to keep all the stakeholders well informed and prevent rumors that might discourage potential visitors from traveling to Greece. During this period, we have received proof of unprecedented sympathy from every part of the world. Thousands of loyal friends of Greece express their desire for holidays in Greece in public, through www.visitgreece.gr and related accounts in various social media. That is why we have created #LovinGreece, to thank them for their love for Greece.
At the same time, Alternate Minister of Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism Elena Kountoura has established good communication with international media. Now that everything is moving smoothly in Greece, the Ministry and the GNTO in collaboration with Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) is launching a campaign to inform all audiences about the Greek summer and all opportunities Greece offers to every tourist. You should visit www.MyGreekSummer.com to get a clearer idea.
How does GNTO plan to use the media and the Internet to reach foreign visitors and to extend Greece's tourism season year-round?
Recognizing the significant on-line travel penetration, in all regions and especially the US and Western Europe, where according to the most recent research 89% of European travelers use online resources in the decision process for their trip, the GNTO has developed and implemented an integrated web promotional strategy. Our objective is to have a sound and coherent web presence through the entire process of travel, which includes 5 stages: "dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing, sharing". In this context, we are collaborating with the leader companies: Google, Trip Advisor, Expedia, Yahoo, Daily Secret, Facebook, MSN Travel, and Lastminute.com carrying out innovative advertising campaigns to a wide range of traditional markets (UK, Germany, Netherlands, France, Italy and big US cities) and rapidly developing markets (Russia, Israel, Poland, Turkey).
At the same time, GNTO is using the dynamic tools of digital technology and is launching content-generated campaigns to promote Greece as a tourism destination for every season. Our main vehicle of communication is www.visitgreece.gr that powers every campaign implemented by the aid of OTS's, travel portals, email marketing channels, social media campaigns, and lots of other devices.
Our aim is to be in continuous dialogue with our audiences and make them see Greece the way we see it. The GNTO's social media are also being used as a main communication vehicle in our effort to inspire and drive the maximum possible engagement from our target-groups.
In addition, we are moving away from the seasonality of Greek tourism in an effort to increase the demand for the shoulder months (off-peak). This way, we are highlighting through all our communication campaigns the diversified, high-quality tourism product of Greece.
Happening Now: #GreekSummer
The Ministry of Economy, Infrastructure, Marine and Tourism and Greek National Tourism Organization, in collaboration with Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), announced on July 22 the launch of a new communication campaign, titled Happening Now: #GreekSummer, which invites audiences to become a part of the Greek summer and share their unique moments and experiences.
Deputy Minister for Tourism Elena Kountoura, in a video statement on July 2 assured visitors currently in Greece, as well as people planning to visit the country, that they will not be affected by the latest financial developments and they can enjoy their holidays without any problems whatsoever.
Our picks from VisitGreece:
There are many destinations to choose from for family fun. Sandy or pebbly beaches with clear waters,rocky coves and caves, archaeological and historical sites, aquariums, maritime museums and parks, and of course, water sports activities are all waiting for you.
Apart from the very popular Greek islands as summer destinations, there are also many treasures to be explored at the numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The first monument in Greece to be included on UNESCO’s list was the Temple of Apollo Epicurius in 1986. Since then number of entries on the list has dramatically increased. Today it includes seventeen monuments throughout the country.
And don’t forget to share your experience at www.blog.visitgreece.gr!
- Greek Tourism Stands Strong
International media coverage shows that Greek Tourism stands strong despite concerns following the bank holiday and capital controls that were announced by the government on June 28.
According to the Telegraph "Summer holiday bookings to Greece are up on last year, tour operators say, with plenty of bargains to be had." Travel site Trivago said it has seen searches for Greek hotels shoot up by more than a quarter compared to last year, adding that interest in Greece is up by 27% compared to 2014 and by 8% compared to last month. Booking.com also said that global bookings to Greece had increased by 41% in the first half of 2015 when compared to the same period last year. Data released by SETE (the Association of Greek Tourism Businesses) showed a 3.2 % increase in international airport arrivals in June 2015 as well as a 6.7 % increase between January and June 2015.
Interviewed for CNBC, the general manager of the Greek Tourism Confederation, Alexandros Lamnidis said that "a record 24 million tourists visited Greece, spending €13.5 billion, last year, adding that about 25 million visitors and more than €14 billion in spending are anticipated this year …We are 6.7% up the past six months, January to June, despite the political turmoil."
The head of German travel company FTI Touristik, Dietmar Gunz, has recently announced that bookings to Greece remain steady, compared to 2014, a great year for tourism. German travel association DRV also said bookings since May had risen strongly."This shows that Germans are not being put off by the headlines on the financial crisis," the association said, whereas the Guardian echoes the same views in an article with the eloquent title German tourists in Greece 'everybody has been so kind – overfriendly, even' .
- Solidarity is the Word
Solidarity is the word, with many travel editors vouching for Greece this year.
Travel editor Rick Steves writes that “this is a great time to travel to Greece. The financial crisis (…) is a boon for budget travelers. All the things you're looking for in a trip to Greece - mouthwatering food, deep-blue water, striking scenery and the thrill of connecting with ancient history - are all here waiting for you ... at a cheaper price. Kevin Rushby in the Guardian says “No fear. The real Greece is still here”, adding that “there’s never been a better time to show solidarity with this beautiful, fascinating country. And the welcome will be warmer than ever.”
Paul McKeever in the Guardian reminds that Greek hospitality remains second to none : “Nothing is too much trouble, very little causes offence, all requests are tolerated, all imbecilities are forgiven, nobody is hassled, everybody is given space, kindness seems obligatory, and the tourist is always treated with courtesy and respect (even when undeserved). It must be just about the easiest place to enjoy a holiday anywhere. Whereas, Alex Andreou urges to “Try to spread the solidarity around: instead of going for very popular destinations, check the smaller islands to which you can fly, or mainland destinations in the Peloponnese, Macedonia and Thessaly.”
Summer Wining & Dining
- Summer in Your Plate
Fresh, nutritious, unprocessed, colourful and tasty, Greek food is perfectly suited to summer dining. The Greek diet is quintessentially Mediterranean, a way of eating that has been included in UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage, as well as a diet buzz word.
Rich in fruit and vegetable, it is just perfect in warmer months. Beyond nutrition or food trends, Greek food’s strongest appeal is its delightful taste. Made of delicious Mediterranean flavours, seafood treasures, cool drinks and fruity sweets, Greece’s aestival diet is the epitome of summer.
Discover Greek summer food at its best in the GNA’s Issue: Greek Summer on Your Plate. Need an extra bonus? It’s the perfect time to reap some of the season’s most delicious and fresh fruits and vegetables. Watermelon, figs, tomatoes, zucchini, artichokes, eggplants and okra are some of them. Read all about it in the GNA’s Fruits & Vegetables: It’s All Greek Summer to Me!
- Raising a Glass
Over the years, Greek wine has gained recognition but many agree that the existing potential can raise the country to greater achievements.
Greece boasts over 300 indigenous varieties, among which Assyrtiko (white), grown mainly on Santorini island, Agiorgitiko, grown in Nemea in the Peloponnese, and Xinomavro (red), grown widely in the northern province of Macedonia. Greece’s wine-growing regions are almost as varied as its grapes, with vineyards in every area: Macedonia in the north, the Ionian Islands in the west, Crete to the south and the Aegean islands in the east.