ECONOMY

Huge tourism potential is waiting to be tapped

Greece can receive investments of up to 4 billion euros by 2010 through better quality tourism and 20 million arrivals per year if it adjusts to the new trends and requirements of the global tourism investment market, says the global managing partner of Deloitte’s tourism, hospitality and leisure department, Alex Kyriakidis, in an interview with Kathimerini. The four main factors expected to change the tourism industry over the next five years are the importance of branding; the impact of emerging markets, such as China, India and the Gulf states on global tourism developments, demographic shifts and the rapid growth of technology. Kyriakidis argues that the biggest and most famous tourism companies in the world are interested in investing in Greece but here they do not find the conditions for their realization at the pace which markets expect internationally. Investment capital for the creation of marinas, golf courses, hotels, modern conference centers and spas will instead turn to other tourism destinations unless the Greek state forms clear rules for their admission to this country, says Kyriakidis. He adds that even the development of casinos must be made under a different philosophy than the present one and similar to that followed by rival destinations. Casinos should be seen as recreation spaces with complementary investments to attract foreign tourists, and not as gambling spots. In this context they should become vehicles for bringing in tourists with special interests. He cites the example of Macao, the fastest developing area in casino operation in recent years, and which receives 30 percent of tourists leaving China. Kyriakidis further cites Dubai as an example of tourism brand development. The emirate expects to increase its arrivals from 6 million today to 25 million in 2015, even though it does not have the rich nature indigenous to Greece. An example closer to Greece is the case of Barcelona, which has made the most of its staging of the Olympic Games, and has become today one of the top conference destinations in Europe and globally. Besides modern conference centers, complementary investments such as golf courses and marinas have created one of the most attractive and well-known destinations. Hotel companies in Greece have to focus on the right target group and supply a distinct product to make them stand out. In this context Kyriakidis underlines that one of the most significant age groups of potential tourists is that of the over-50s, who are predicted to play a significant role in the coming years on a European level. Tourists in this group will increase in the coming years, with distinct requirements and special interests, as well as with the ability to spend more money than the average tourist. This group is set to be a key competition field among the most important destinations, predicts Kyriakidis.