BUSINESS

Variety, quality service and better infrastructure seen as the keys to increased tourism

STATHIS KOUSOUNIS

An important executive in the global travel market, the chairman and CEO of Touristic Union International (TUI) Dr Michael Frenzel, whose decisions can determine developments in any destination, arrives in Athens today, invited by the Greek-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The TUI group, the world's biggest German-interest travel corporation, had a turnover of 20 billion euros in 2005. In this country, through TUI Greece, it controls 30 percent of incoming tourism traffic, mainly from Germany. Frenzel will address the chamber's annual general meeting, with a speech on «Greece: Ready for the Future of Tourism.» The German market is the second most important for Greece, with 2.3 million Germans visiting this country every year. He told Kathimerini ahead of his visit that the key to maintaining Greece on a course of growth lies in differentiating its tourism product, upgrading quality services and improving infrastructure. This set of three requirements is the recipe for success, according to the TUI CEO, and must be heeded by the state and the local tourism business market. Frenzel makes special reference to the potential for further growth of the Greek tourism product through utilizing the natural landscape and the islands. The head of TUI Greece, Nikos Papathanassis, stresses that Greece as a destination has to adjust its tourism policy to the needs and requirements set out by the international tourism scene. For instance, the trend in recent years has been the development of new themed products. Hotels are being specifically created to cover the needs of families, younger and older people. If Greece wishes to remain among the top tourism destinations in the world it has to follow with an investment rate and philosophy similar to its international rivals, he suggests. The increase in bookings from Germany to Greece in the last two years, according to indications to date, seems likely to continue through 2007. On an investment level, the market is awaiting news of the state's policy on incentives through the new Development Law, from 2007 onward, for the creation of luxurious hotel units. The TUI group of companies has 63,000 staff, 3,500 travel agencies, 75 tour operators, more than 100 aircraft and controls 280 hotels and 35 offices of incoming tourism in various countries. In total, it serves 23 million tourists every year.

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