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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 12 October 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 12 OCTOBER 2019 17 TRAVEL How Australia is leading the way during Greek tourism boom CON STAMOCOSTAS Australian tourist arrivals to Greece doubled in just one year when in 2017 over 320,000 people chose Greece as their holiday destination - a massive increase when you compare that figure to 2016 which was between 120,000180,000. The figure for 2019 indicate that so far there will be a similar result Overall visitors to Greece have increased from 15 to 30 million in recent years. It's a remarkable increase as in 2012 numbers were stable at over 15 million but since 2013 there has been consecutive records with 2018 the high-water mark. But more intriguing Australian travellers per capita are spending more than any other country. In fact they are more spending more than double the average. With overseas travellers flocking to Greece in record numbers, overall investment in new hotel accommodation in Greece has been steady at 1-3 per cent per year including 24 brand new hotels being built in Athens alone in the current year. But the sector which has had the biggest increase is at the top end with additional five star category accommodation increasing 11 per cent per year during both 2017 and 2018. Australian tourists are also at the top when it comes to spending money in Greece with an average of 1200 euros per capita; more than double the average spending. For this reason, it's no surprise Greek tourism companies have their eyes on the local market. This tourism boom and Australia's love for travelling to Greece was evident at the Luxperience exhibition that was held at the International Convention Centre in Sydney this week. Companies including Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa, Argo Travel, NJV Athens Plaza, Luxury Greece DMC, Myconian Collection, and Fly Me To The Moon spent three days pitching their high end Greek Luxury Tourism experiences to Australian travel agencies. Katia Gkikiza, the Trade Commissioner for the Consulate General of Greece in Sydney, told Neos Kosmos just how significant it was having the Greek companies at the Luxperience event. "This is an exhibition for pro- fessionals of tourism attended by travel agents, wholesalers and suppliers," she said. "The Greek companies we had at the event are in accommodation such as luxury villas, hotels and the other type we have this year are destination managers. For each of them their goal is to have more cooperation with Australia and find local travel agents that will work with them to promote their hotels and Greek travels agents also." Michelle Papas, the event director of Luxperience told Neos Kosmos that Australian tourists are demanding a luxury travel experience, something that Greece is equiped Australians are drawn by high-end travel to Greece, spending more than the average tourist. PHOTO: PXHERE Katia Gkikiza, the Trade Commissioner for the Consulate General of Greece in Sydney is fifth from the left, Luxury Greece DMC Carmen Cordoba is third from the left, and Argo Travel Group director, Stratis Voursoukis is fourth from the left. to offer. "It's a testament of the quality of travellers that we have in this market that are interested in travelling for a longer duration of time," she said. "Although we have a small market when compared to other luxury travel markets to say the USA or China, Australia is very highly regarded as high yielding for tourism and that is why we have many exhibitors and why we have more exhibitors from Greece as well. They are making their mark." One of the Greek exhibitors at Luxperience is Argo Travel Group who has been operating in the travel industry for over 67 years. As well as luxury travel they are also promote Traces of Greece an experience which is designed for academics and students that covers religious heritage through accredited short courses and leisure travel. Stratis Voursoukis, Argo Travel Group Director of Sales and Marketing explained how Australian tourists have become a vital aspect of their business. "It is a rather important market for us," he told Neos Kosmos. "However, we need to identify the way to support them. I am sure they love Greece and they are frequent travellers to our country. We need to know what type of travellers they are and whether they need further arrangements, or they simply stay at their own family back in Greece. We want to scan this market, identify all features and customise our products accordingly to the local needs. Thus, we need to find the 'key' players of this market that are already promoting Greece in order to support them and cooperate on a mutual basis." Perhaps the most unique exhibitor from Greece is Carmen Cordoba who is a native of Peru but has been living in Greece for 30 years. She is the owner director of Luxury Greece DMC and Travel which counts celebrities and elite sports teams as her clients. While she believes Greece has become the number one destination for VIP clients due to the luxury services now available, she feels more can be done to meet this high demand. "We have a couple of islands which are very, very good for luxury services," she said. "Santorini and Mykonos of course are the islands everyone knows but now Crete and Milos have become a nice luxury destination as well. Milos this year it was incredible, so many requests from luxury clients as we have a few properties there as well. "But unfortunately it's not all the islands. So we need help from the government, we need to train people in hospitably in order to provide this kind of service because if you visit some places they don't offer luxury." Young Australian falls in love with Santorini and gets tattoo of iconic church THEODORA MAIOS Greece might not be in 20-year-old Jemma Hadley's bloodline, but it's certainly in her heart and as of recently also etched on her body forever. The young woman's fascination with Greece started at a very young age. "My Year 4 Greek Australian teacher, who also happened to be the best teacher in the world, used to love to tell us stories about the country of her ancestors, encouraging us to explore Greece's culture as well as history. She was the one that introduced me to the ancient Greek philosophers, Greek mythology and history and got me hooked on those books that 'transported' me to a different world, a world that I immersed myself in as a child," remembers Jemma, a 'hopeless romantic' who used to spend countless hours reading, looking at pictures and dreaming of all the places she wanted to visit in Greece. "I remember I was obsessed with Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty," she says. The young girl's dream came true in September when she took her first overseas trip alone. "When I arrived in Santorini, it was love at first sight. I had seen pictures of the island in books and on television, but I never expected it to be like that. The view of the caldera was just breathtaking. It was nothing like I had ever seen before. I loved the wild scenery, the natural beauty, and the hospitality of the islanders that were so welcoming and kind," says Jemma, who spent her days hiking, exploring, mixing with the locals and indulging in delicious traditional Greek food. "In all seriousness, I had the best 'frappe', the best baklava and the most delicious Greek salad and souvlaki I have ever tasted. Those are my greatest weaknesses and I would have them any day." After spending five nights in Santorini, the young blogger decided to get a tattoo on her arm that would remind her of her first overseas trip, particularly of the place she had wanted to visit since she was a young girl. "I am not religious. If anything, I am fascinated by the 12 Greek Gods. Nevertheless, the blue dome church with the three bells is just a gorgeous piece of architecture that you don't see anywhere else in the world. I decided that it would be the best way for me to remember my unique time in Greece. As for the olive branch, it is obviously a Greek native plant that stands for peace and forgiveness, so it felt right to also add that on to my Greek design," she explains. Jemma is already planning her next trip to Greece to celebrate turning 21. "I can't wait to go back. I regret only spending 12 hours in Athens and not visiting the ruins and the old city, but I am saving my money now and hopefully my next adventure isn't too far away," she says. "Greece is definitely a country blessed by the Gods and I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to experience it."
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