Games upgrade Greece’s image

Americans and Europeans seem to be now coming around to a view of Greece as a «safe destination» and a «modern European country» that organized «technically impeccable» Olympic Games with «a human dimension.» A great percentage of respondents from five countries told a public opinion research study immediately after the Games that they now wished to visit Greece, making it second in preferences only to Italy among Mediterranean destinations. The study, conducted by the consortium of MRB, V-PRC and Research International for the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC), shows the majority of the sample in the USA, UK, Germany, France and Spain has gained a positive view of Greece: A considerable swing in public opinion, particularly in America, appears to have convinced nearly half of Europeans and Americans to visit the homeland of the Olympics. A staggering 90 percent of Americans and 93 percent of Europeans said the Games were successful, with every two out of five people branding these Games the best in the history of the modern Olympics. They said they were informed about the Games via television, magazines and advertisements. ATHOC stressed that from the research «one concludes that after the success of the Games, Greece is upgraded compared to its tourism competitors, even surpassing Spain in the US market, while in Europe it is neck-and-neck with Italy and a long way ahead of Spain.» The data show Greece is considered for a visit by 38.7 percent of US citizens and 49.2 percent of Europeans, with Italy coming first (50.2 percent and 49.9 percent respectively) and Spain third (37.2 percent and 42 percent) in the Mediterranean (Germans are currently the largest national group of visitors to Greece). Similar percentages (41.3 in the US, 48 in Europe) watched the opening ceremony, with up to two in three saying they liked it. Most respondents chose to watch the athletics and swimming events: 59.4 percent of Americans chose swimming, while 61.6 percent of Europeans opted for track and field, led by the British with 74.2 percent. The post-Game sentiment for Greece shows a very positive swing: up 9 percent in the US and up 3.9 percent in Europe, with 23 percent of Americans and 7 percent of Europeans gaining more positive views of the country with what they saw and heard. The poll was conducted in the September 1-22 period in random telephone interviews, and involved a sample of 3,031 people in five countries.