Germans choose Crete and Rhodes

More German tourists are expected to visit Greece this summer, as an article on the Deutsche Welle website declares: “the charm offensive of Greece as a tourist destination seems to have paid off and, combined with the quality improvement of services provided, is expected to attract more tourists.”

They estimate that the increased demand for Greek package tours is mainly due to the observation that the quality of services provided in Greece has improved sensibly in recent years. As a result, Germans are choosing Greece as a tourist destination once more.

The director of the Frankfurt branch of the National Tourism Organization, Panayiotis Skordas, commented: “This year we are doing very well indeed, although at first we were worried by the World Cup. We thought that many Germans would stay at home. Already, though, the first reports from Greece, especially Crete and Rhodes, are very positive.”

However, Mr Skordas mentioned that there is a problem with transport and that the flights on offer may not be enough. “There is a lack of transport, we always need more. This year Olympic Airways have reduced their flights. Luckily, however, there are more charter flights.” This increased demand for airline tickets was confirmed by Andreas Engel, the representative of the privately-owned company Germanwings. He said that his company has recorded a 15-20% rise in demand compared to last summer. “Compared to last year, Germanwings ticket prices to Greece have risen. This is due to rising fuel prices on the one hand and increased demand on the other. Also, because of the World Cup, many people here in Germany are booking at the last minute and of course prices are higher.”

Why, though, have the Germans suddenly “rediscovered” Greece? Why this great increase compared to the last three years, the airline company representative was asked. “It may be due to the fact that many people have realized that Greece as a tourist destination offers high quality. Many Germans have experimented in recent years and visited other countries such as Turkey and Croatia to compare”, was the explanation Mr Engel gave.

He added that, following this movement, “it seems that many of them are returning to Greece. They prefer the Greek islands, which are close to Athens and Thessaloniki, and there are various reasons for this: on the one hand the quality of service provided, and on the other the euro, which allows easy comparison. The recent Greek charm offensive through the International Tourism Exhibition seems to be paying off.”

The big tour operators such as TUI are also recording increased demand for Greek package tours. The most popular Greek destination for Germans is Crete, like every year, said TUI representative Anya Braun: “For our company, Greece is one of the most popular tourist destinations, in the first 10 of our total package tour offer. Greece is one of the most important destinations for our customers. According to our forecasts, demand will be up on last year. Many TUI customers ask for Greece.”

It is the same with the other major German tourist group, Neckermann-Reisen. Its representative Asger Schubert remarked: “2006 is a good year for Greek tourism. We have bookings made very early this year, months in advance. The top destinations are Crete and Rhodes, some smaller islands and Thessaloniki as a cultural destination. One of the reasons for increased demand is the fall in bookings in Turkey, something that naturally benefits Greece.”

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