Indian Tourists Visiting Greece Up over 100 pct in 2017

FILE - The August full moon rises above the 5th Century BC Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio, south of Athens, on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

The number of Indian tourists visiting Greece rose over 100 pct in 2017 compared to the previous year, Pranav Kapadia, founder and director of Mumbai-based Global Destinations, said in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, and estimated that the tourist flows from India will rise another 22-25 percent over the next years.

There is a lot of interest and demand from India, especially for Athens, Santorini and Mykonos, he said, adding that currently the company is trying to promote other destinations such as Crete, Rhodes and Thessaloniki.

Indians are very fond of the Greek people, who are very friendly and helpful, while Indians are also very interested in the Greek history and culture, Kapadia said. A lot of Indians choose Greece for their honeymoon or their summer holidays.

Asked on the main problems that Indian tourists encounter in Greece, he said it is the lack of Indian restaurants on the islands. As he explained, Indians may prefer something different for lunch, but for dinner they want to have an Indian meal.

Kapadia also suggested that Greek tourist agents look very seriously at the emerging Indian market and be more receptive of it.

The full interview follows:

ANA: Tourists from India have increased significantly over the past years. Can you please give us some figures?

PK: I don’t know the exact number of visitors visiting Greece, but I can tell you from our company’s point of view we have seen a growth of over 100 pct in 2017 compared to the previous year.

There is a lot of interest and demand from India, especially for Athens, Santorini and Mykonos. What we are currently trying to do in India is to develop other destinations such as Crete, Rhodes and Thessaloniki. That is what we want to build on.

ANA: Are most visits made for professional reasons or pleasure?

PK: Pleasure. It is basically leisure holidays. It is not so much professional reasons. It is basically people coming for holidays. Honeymoon is a big segment for us. Small family groups are also an important segment for us.

ANA: What are the main problems that Indian tourists encounter in Greece?

PK: The biggest current problem is restaurants on islands. Not in Athens: Athens has some fantastic Indian restaurants. But there is a problem on islands. Indians may prefer something different for lunch, but for dinner we want to have an Indian meal.

The second one is that Indians book their holidays very late. We decide in April that we want to travel in May. So availability is a major issue. We do not plan in advance. We plan very closely (to a trip), maybe a month or a month and half before.

ANA: Is visa a problem?

PK: The Greek embassy is very efficient in its job. However, visas are not issued but only a few days before the departure. As a result, this sometimes makes it had for travel agencies to make reservations.

ANA: What would you ask from Greek travel agents?

PK: Be more receptive of the Indian market. They obviously get tourists from Europe and the US, but they should look at the emerging Indian market very seriously. And focus on a quality market – Indians that come to Greece have travelled the world. So do not only focus on the two- or three-star segment of the market. There is the four-, five- star, and beyond, luxury market. Greece has a lot to offer to the Indian traveler.

ANA: Do Indian tourists have complaints from their stay in Greece?

PK: Actually, no. They come back very happy. People in Greece are very friendly, unlike other European destinations. There is also excellent shopping and very good nightlife.

ANA: Is there interest in cruises?

PK: Yes and no. When they look at a cruise, they look at big boats. The cruise market is very big for India, but Greece is not so popular in that kind of tourism yet. They prefer the Carribean, or Alaska.

ANA: What are the advantages of Greece, compared to other European destinations, according to your customers?

PK: First are the people, who are very friendly and helpful, its culture, nightlife, and huge history: You have got it all. Even the Greek cuisine is very nice.

ANA: What are your estimates regarding tourism flows in the future?

PK: Over the next five years, tourist inflows from India can definitely grow 20-25 pct.

Lila Chotzoglou