Face to face: Christina Kalogera, director of The Greek National Tourist Office, UK & Ireland

How is the UK market performing for Greece this summer? 

Christina Kalogera
Christina Kalogera

In 2015 Greece saw over 2.3 million arrivals from the UK, a year-on-year increase of nearly 15 percent.

Moreover, according to the latest figures from the Bank of Greece, Greece received 928,000 UK visitors between January and June 2016 – an increase of 13 per cent compared to the same period last year – and with positive booking indications for the remainder of the summer season, we are very hopeful that 2016 will be another great year for Greek tourism.

Finally, with multiple new routes to Greece already announced for 2017 from various UK tour operators and airlines, including new flights from Ryanair, Jet2 and Thomson from various UK airports to Halkidiki and Chania in Crete, we look forward to welcoming even more UK visitors to the country next year as well.

 

What booking trends are you noticing? i.e. where people are staying, destinations, length of travel etc.

The most popular type of holiday for British tourists would be sun and sea holidays, mainly one week or two-week package holidays. Our best known destinations are the Greek islands of Crete, Rhodes, Zante, Corfu and Kos which are popular summer destinations.

However, we are also seeing growth in other Greek islands and regions such as Halkidiki, Santorini, Kefalonia, Skiathos and the Peloponnese. This summer alone for instance saw a number of new routes to Greece including new flights from Ryanair, Jet2, Thomas Cook, British Airways and Norwegian with new Greek destinations added such as Thasos island in northern Greece, Kalamata in southern Greece and Chania in Crete.

Finally, we are also seeing a steady increase in visitor numbers in the shoulder months such as April and October, as Greece is not just another sun and sea destination but a country with many different types of holidays on offer, which are also becoming popular to wider market segments.

 

What factors are driving demand to Greece?

Greece is a great destination with good value for money, so when people come to choose their holiday they know that Greece has everything they are looking for: It is a safe destination, with great weather, amazing landscapes, warm hospitality and a fascinating history and culture. On top of this, we are continuing to improve and widen our products year-on-year and we therefore strongly believe that despite recent geopolitical and other developments in other destinations, Greece is growing independently and will continue to go from strength to strength each year.

 

What do you believe has been the impact of Brexit on UK tourism to Greece?

As previously stated, according to the latest figures released by the Bank of Greece, UK travellers to Greece are up year-on-year in the period January to June 2016. Like everyone else we will of course be waiting to see how the referendum result might affect tourism in general in the long term, but Greece has always been and will continue to be a great value for money destination for British travellers looking to enjoy our country’s great weather, culture and gastronomy.

 

What are your plans for marketing Greece in the UK for the next year – areas of focus?

Every year the GNTO heavily invests on co-funded marketing campaigns with both mainstream and niche tour operators targeted to both consumers and trade. Through our jointly-funded marketing activity with UK tour operators and with tailor made campaigns of our own targeting different types of travellers, we work to raise awareness of Greece as a holiday destination and ensure that there is high demand for Greek destinations – not just the popular ones but lesser known ones as well. These campaigns utilize both online and offline channels, aiming to promote tourism to Greece during the lesser visited shoulder months, introduce off the beaten track destinations and  to promote authentic Greek experiences targeting niche markets including but not limited to food and wine, city breaks, soft adventure and walking holidays. As well as this, weddings and honeymoons and luxury and wellness will continue to be areas of focus for 2017.

 

How did the ABTA convention in Greece help boost sales through the trade post-event?

The ABTA convention held in the Peloponnese last year was a great opportunity for us to introduce UK travel professionals and media to a truly unique mainland gem of our country. One of our main goals is to showcase that Greece is so much more than a sun and sea destination and the Peloponnese, with so many undiscovered and commanding treasures waiting to be explored – whether cultural, gastronomic or other – is an excellent example of that. Pre and during the event we helped organise a series of press and fam trips, as well as activities and tours to showcase this stunning part of Greece to as many of the delegates as possible. Post-convention we were delighted to see British Airways introduce a new flight to Kalamata for summer 2016.

 

What trade initiatives do you have in place or planned to make sure the UK trade keeps Greece top of mind?

On an annual basis we run extensive joint marketing campaigns including more than twenty tour operators and airlines in the UK market aiming to promote their holiday packages and flights to Greece. Our partners are carefully selected and we make sure there is a healthy mix of mainstream and niche tour operators covering a wide spectrum of destinations and types of holidays to Greece, such as sun and sea, walking, sailing, luxury, weddings, wellness and culture.

Furthermore, joint marketing campaigns are only one of the tools utilized to support our industry partners, in our multi-dimensional trade strategy, which also includes online travel training, fam trips, educational events and roadshows. We also support call centre training in order to update agents on new developments in Greece and train them on existing trends, destinations and routes.

 

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