TORONTO — Last year’s pairing of Israel and Greece proved so successful, the two tourism boards decided to do it all over again.
The Greek National Tourism Office and the Israel Ministry of Tourism co-hosted a lively industry get-together last night in Toronto’s Distillery District. It was a follow-up to their March 2022 event.
Travel advisors and suppliers came out in droves, despite Toronto’s recent winter storm, and Gal Hana, Consul for Tourism and IMOT’s Director for Canada and Fiona Kosmin, Director of Marketing & Partnerships, Canada for IMOT, along with Yannis Plexousakis, Deputy Director, GNTO North America and Sofoklis Savvas, Exhibitions & Trade Coordinator, GNTO were there to welcome them.
STRONG RECOVERY FOR GREECE
Greece has been having “a fantastic run,” said Savvas.
After record results in 2019, Greece’s post-pandemic recovery is staying strong, with numbers already approaching 2019 levels. Tourism revenue totalled US$2 billion in 2019, and 2022 “was very close to that,” he said.
Average stay was 4.4 days in 2019, and 4.5 days in 2022. Average daily expenditure was $59.33 in 2019, and $65.66 in 2022. Greece is also finding more momentum with high-end travellers; some 42.6% of the country’s visitors are now classified as high-income.
Two of the travel industry’s fastest growing niches – wellness and luxury – are perfectly suited to Greece’s tourism offering. Luxury properties have been popping up all over the country, including favourites Mykonos and Santorini.
In other news, Greece has a new high-speed electrified rail line, known as the Silver Arrow, that connects Athens and Thessaloniki in just under four hours.
And a huge new development called The Ellinikon, billed as a smart city construction and ‘the greatest urban regeneration project in Europe, will revolutionize the Athenian Riviera, said Savvas. The Ellinikon will include hotels and resorts along with residential and commercial elements, shops and attractions and a massive park space.
Greece is looking to not only increase the flow of visitors to the country, but also to enhance their travel experience, said Savvas. More information is at visitgreece.gr.
LIFE-CHANGING TRIPS TO ISRAEL
Tourism and travel are exactly what the world needs right now, said IMOT’s Gal Hana, Consul for Tourism and IMOT’s Director for Canada.
“Travel is the antidote to the polarized world we’re living in,” he said. Travel advisors are instrumental in opening the world to their clients. And anyone who says AI tools like ChatGPT can build an itinerary like a travel agent, “that person is not in the travel industry and doesn’t know the value of a travel agent.”
And no one takes travel and tourism for granted anymore, not after the pandemic, he added. “Tourism used to be a ‘nice to have’,” said Hana. Now governments realize what a crucial economic driver tourism is, in the wake of two years of just about no travel at all.
IMOT’s Fiona Kosmin, Director of Marketing & Partnerships, Canada, recently hosted Canadian travel retailers and wholesalers on a trip to Israel, where the travel themes were ‘The Friendly Desert’ to Negev and Eilat, ‘Spiritual Journey in the Holy Land’, ‘Culinary and Multiculturalism’ and ‘A Tale of Two Cities: Jerusalem and Tel Aviv’.
A trip to Israel is life-changing, said Kosmin, and that’s true for everyone, from the group she recently hosted, to the millions and millions of visitors Israel has received over the decades. “If you’re not offering Israel to your clients, they’re missing out,” she said.
Israel’s new marketing message sums it up: Israel – Exactly like Nowhere Else.
IMOT is launching everything from learning modules, to helpful resources for the country’s nature and parks offering, including Masada (en.parks.org.il), to a renewed focus on the MICE market. More information is at Israel.travel.