Stealing Berlin’s show

BERLIN – The German capital is full of Greek tourism adverts and Greek flags as the 40th global tourism expo ITB opened here yesterday, with Greece being the honored country among the 183 states and territories participating in the fair. This is probably the first time, at least in the last 15 years, that Greece’s presence is more evident here than Turkey’s in the main tourism event of one of the biggest tourism markets in the world, worth about 16 billion euros. Tourism Development Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia along with Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit and Germany’s finance and technology minister conducted the opening of ITB yesterday morning. Petralia invited people around the world to visit Greece and «live their myth,» adding that it is very important for Greece to be the honored country in this major travel fair that is completing 40 years of activity. She repeated that tourism is a main pillar of the Greek economy. Wowereit began his visit to the ITB yesterday with the Greek stand, where Petralia welcomed him, along with the general secretary of the Greek National Tourism Organization, Giorgos Fotinopoulos. The German minister also visited the Greek stand and confirmed his country’s interest in Greece as a tourism destination. The official opening followed in the evening with Petralia beginning her speech in German. She then stated that apart from the well-known model of sea and sun, the Greek destination offers much more. The minister referred to all activity that will take place in order to attract city tourism, rendering the country’s main cities an attraction for thousands of visitors throughout the year. Every year surveys presented in the Berlin expo show that German tourism is split into three almost equal pieces: One-third travel within Germany, one-third choose the Mediterranean and the rest prefer other destinations. This trend has been consolidated and will continue for years, although the growth of new destinations often changes the picture. Analysis of German tourists’ behavior shows that the development of new destinations is usually at the expense of older ones. For example, there has been a small rise in demand for long-distance trips, the stiff competition in quality, low prices, and the small increase in demand for visits to Eastern European countries. There is, however, a significant rise in recent years in travel by older people. Out of all Germans who traveled in 2004, some 6.4 percent were senior citizens, a figure set to rise to 8.8 percent by 2015. Finally, the new «all-inclusive» form of holidays shows a fast-growing trend: In 1999 only 4 percent chose this kind of tourism, a figure which rose to 24 percent last year. Forecasts for the next three years take these packages to 44 percent.