BUSINESS

Greece’s allure as a destination spreads to Asia, South America

By Stathis Kousounis

Thanks to its improved image, Greece seems to be attracting an increasing number of visitors from emerging economies. Furthermore, tourism industry officials say that Brazilians, Koreans, Filipinos, Indians and Mexicans among others often spend more money than those from the so-called “traditional” origin countries.

Santorini is a case in point. Mayor Anastasios-Nikolaos Zorzos says the island has for years been a magnet for visitors from Asia throughout the year. The island expects about 20,000 Asian tourists this winter. Apart from the Chinese, Koreans also represent a growing clientele, reflected in the fact that a Korean film was partly shot on Santorini between July 22 and 25. Another film, “Beijing Love Story,” also shot on Santorini, opened at movie theaters in China on February 14.

Athens is also a growing pole of attraction for visitors from emerging markets. Brazilians and Mexicans stop in the Greek capital while on cruise trips and stay up to three nights. They spend considerable sums on food and drinks in the hotels as well as on souvenirs. Brazilians and Mexicans also show a particular preference for trips that include the “classic tour” of Mycenae, Epidaurus and Olympia. Most Latin American tourists are aged 50-plus.

Indians usually travel with family as part of groups. They are demanding customers and prefer their own cuisine.

A group of 29 Filipino travel agents were in Athens last week to be briefed and possibly to design tours for the Greek destination.

Attracting visitors from Asia is seen as the biggest challenge for destinations around the world, including Greece. According to a study titled “Winning the Next Billion Asian Travelers – Starting with China,” carried out by Tripadvisor and Boston Consulting, more than 50 percent of the increase in global tourism traffic up to 2030 will come from the Asia-Pacific region. A billion people are projected to have annual earnings of US$15,000 or more by then and the vast majority will come from China, India, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea.

The Chinese are projected to make 1.7 billion trips in the intervening period and their spending is seen shooting up to US$1.8 trillion. They are distinct in that they prefer to travel in February, May and October, which are low-season months for many Western destinations.

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