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Anna Ifandi: The mature consumer knows how to travel more comfortably, cheeper and with better quality

01 August 2010 / 23:08:42  GRReporter
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Maria S. Topalova talks with the President of the Association of tourist operators in Greece about the difficult tourist season and about the summer holidays trends in 2010 and how to make pleasant our vacation during the crisis

Mrs. Ifandi, what data is there currently present, how is the tourist season going on in Greece in this difficult for the economy period?

In Greece at the beginning of the tourist season we had a greater concern because of the economic measures, however fortunately our forecasts did not materialize. At the moment things on the market are going smoothly. At some places things go better, i.e. a given region is developing better, another region - worse, one tourist market goes well, while another lags. But the overall impression is that things are moving close to last year's levels. I.e. we are moderate optimists, because the market is developing smoothly. And we believe that except of course for the full season in which we are currently entering, very well will go also the fall season. In recent years, due to the common international economic crisis there was a decline in tourism and the forecasts of the international tourist organizations for the development of tourism have changed because of the economic crisis. Consequences there were for all countries including Greece. While the euro was expensive and I would say probably even overestimated, there was greater competition from countries outside the euro area, from the eastern Mediterranean, which are our main competitors - Croatia, Turkey, Egypt. The advantage for our country is that it offers quality products that our competitive countries can not offer and it also provides security for the tourists. These are the pros. Currentle, I do not hide it, the whole tourist industry and the political leadership but mainly the tourism market, because this is what we are talking about, is currently ready for action and offers quality products and we believe that today's forecast will eventually justify, and we hope they will even improve, so we all wish.

Which regions are developing better and which are lagging behind?

The island of Rhodes is going very well, the Sporades archipelago also some other areas registered a decrease, greater than last year, which does not mean that by the end of the tourist season, things will still go in the same direction. The phenomenon lead bookings (early reservations) is what dominates the market in recent years at international level. Α lead are markets which operated many months in advance and we knew with certainty to a large extent how they will develop. Now the late reservations have become a "law" for everyone here. Before we were saying that late reservations are making the Greeks or Italians, you know, the Mediterraneans. Now also the northern nationalities are making late reservations. Naturally, not the entire market is moving so, but it is a new trend.

From which countries are most tourists coming?

We are laying behind in some traditional for us markets from the European Union. There are being made some efforts to improve the things. From the very beginning we had very good news from the Russian market, which is going very well. Following the change in the relationship between the euro and the dollar also the American market is going well. The Americans were a bit confined in their shell, because the euro was very expensive for them. The change in the exchange rate has a positive effect on tourism – both for the European, and for the Greek. And the overseas markets as we call them, also develop better.

How important is to you the Bulgarian market?

The Bulgarian market is both favorite because the Bulgarians are our neighbors, and important, I would say mostly to northern Greece, as you know. Because it is the outlet to the Mediterranean for the Bulgarians and for some of our companies Bulgarians have become what we call regular customers. And also because there is a similar mentality this is a desirable market for Greece.

Now you ask for the tourists in Greece, you changed is the quality of visitors?

International economic crisis affected the tourist packages and tourists began to prefer the cheaper packages and limited their purchases. The U.S. market is recovering, but Europe is in a stage of a common recession or psychological concern, if you think about it, about what is happening in the economies of the member countries. For the 40 years that I am in tourism, there have always been fluctuations – there is a rise, and there are also downs. And sometimes you find yourself at the top of the curve, sometimes at its lower part, but always with a tendency to rise, ie the figures increase over time. When we were preparing the Olympic Games we were at the bottom of the curve. It's a little strange, but it is a phenomenon typical not only for Greece, it has happened in other countries as well. Because many people are afraid to go or because the price will be higher, or because there are many people. While following the logic a country should be registering a major development, this does not happen.

Tags: EconomyMarketsTourism Maria S Topalova Anna Ifandi
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