Charter flight arrivals during the year’s first half came in below expectations but still managed to record a 4.8 percent annual rise, reaching 3,839,862 tourists from 3,662,972 in January-June 2004, the Institute of Tourism Research and Forecasts (ITEP) has announced in a report. «Despite the unprecedented promotion and advertisement of our country, there has only been a relatively mild rebound,» ITEP comments, stressing that these figures do not meet expectations considering the government’s promotional efforts and other, external factors. Athens obtained the lion’s share of the country’s tourist arrivals (2,139,757), as charters flying into Eleftherios Venizelos Airport increased by 12 percent compared with the first half of last year. Thessaloniki’s Macedonia Airport followed with 448,430 tourists arriving, up by 1.1 percent from 2004. Hania in Crete rose by 4.5 annually, reaching 194,163 tourists. Greece’s island destinations generally did less well, with Chios posting the biggest drop (13 percent) falling to just 5,302 tourists, followed by Zakynthos, which lost 10.8 percent, and Cephalonia, which fell by 8.4 percent. Kos, Rhodes and Iraklion also recorded a drop in arrivals. Having analyzed the figures, the institute suggests that «these trends do not allow for greater optimism than that in the two previous ITEP reports. It will not be easy to forecast a rise in arrivals in excess of 5 to 7 percent unless there is a strong upswing outside Athens, as this is where the problem lies. The capital is showing a quite satisfactory performance, which is keeping the country’s tourism at a reasonable level. This may be an indication that foreign tourists increasingly choose according to quality and to a lesser extent according to price,» ITEP argues in its report. Regarding Athens, the report mentions that the city, previously a laggard in tourism services, is now a leader following the Olympic Games. On the other hand, ITEP notes that «the downgrading of quality, Greece’s absence from international tourism forums and the generally insufficient advertising and promotion have amassed problems which are not easily reversible. The effort made to date may be impressive but must continue uninterrupted,» says the institute. Preparing for 2006 Heeding this call, the Tourism Development Ministry and the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) have already announced a tender for the design and production of the creative aspect for next year’s advertising campaign. This year the announcement has come even earlier than in 2004. The main characteristic of the new tender is that Greek tourism is to be advertised in no fewer than 42 countries, hoping to increase arrivals from the target markets by 50 percent from previous years. The ministry aims to advertise Greek tourism during the period when people around the world are planning their holidays and making the bulk of their reservations, unlike in previous years when the adverts would come only after the main booking period. With the tender process beginning now, everything is expected to be ready by November or December for the Greek tourism promotion program for 2006 to unfold. Proposals for the production of the creative side will be made on September 8, with the evaluation following the next day. The project’s total budget will reach up to 1,450,000 euros plus value-added tax. Interested parties will submit offers for a single creative design for all target countries with some variations from the creative idea, the text translation to each language, as well as the creative material for each target country with the GNTO logo provided («Wonderful Greece») and a new motto proposed by participants in the tender for the production of the creative material. Participants will have to take into account this year’s GNTO campaign with the central catch phrase «Live your myth in Greece.» From this, the word «Myth» is definitely to be maintained in designing the creative material for 2006. Moreover, the character of the new campaign will rely on three strategic pillars: culture – environment – development. Among the crucial elements to be highlighted are the country’s unique cultural and natural resources, its infrastructure, the special forms of tourism (e.g. sea, cultural, conference, luxury, thalassotherapy) aimed at potential visitors of high demands, while not forgetting Greece’s attractiveness as a destination for all four seasons of the year. The target countries, to whose languages the text must be adapted, are the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, South Africa, Russia, Ukraine, the US, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, China, Japan, South Korea and India.