Upbeat German signals for Greek tourism

The number of visitors from Germany, Greece’s main foreign source of tourism, is projected to rise by 8-10 percent this year, according to a research study commissioned by the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO). The study, conducted by the BAT tourism research institute, found that Germans rate Greece as their second most favorable destination after Austria (including their own country), with rival Turkey in sixth place. Greece attracts more than 2.5 million German visitors annually. On the whole, respondents said the staging of soccer’s World Cup in June will not deter them from traveling, even after the event, with 67.2 percent saying the intended to go on trips at least five days long. Greece will be the honored country at the 40th global tourism expo ITB opening in Berlin today and will have an active presence in the inaugural ceremony in the city’s international conference center. The four-day event, which hosts 180 countries and regions and more than 10,400 tourism companies, is projected to attract at least 140,000 visitors. As part of the schedule of events, Tourism Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia will speak at a business forum, sponsored by the International Herald Tribune, on investment opportunities in Greece’s tourism sector and will attend a press briefing afterward. The Greek pavilion hosts about 70 different exhibitors, including regional authorities, hotels and air carriers. Tour operator Tui Hellas’s managing director Nikos Papathanassis says that the number of bookings in Germany for Greek destinations this year have been encouraging so far, with similar indications from France, the Netherlands and Belgium. In contrast, the British market for Greece has been rather subdued. Spain again appears to be a hot spot, whereas Turkey seems to be losing favor, mainly due to bird flu fears.