ATHENS – If you’re planning a trip to Greece this year, better start checking for seats because the country is set to be such a hot tourist destination again that American airlines are making more direct flights and other foreign carriers are competing too.
That includes Emirates, which is based in Dubai, and has flights from there through Athens to New Jersey, not New York’s JFK Airport so you have to make connections to get to New York destinations after you land.
In a feature, the Dubai-based Khaleej Times noted how Greece recovered faster in 2022 as the COVID-19 pandemic waned because it essentially ended health measures and opened the country to foreign visitors without restriction.
“Greece has made huge strides in diversifying its tourism industry, cultivating old destinations and building up new ones, with a goal to defeat seasonality outside of Athens,” the paper said.
It pointed to advertising and marketing campaigns placed in international media and based on campaigns such as Greekend and Greece Does Have a Winter to kept people coming through the autumn and into the winter.
“The campaigns have been a great success,” said Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias to the paper.
“A key factor in upgrading our product was investments from abroad, including from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the US. All the big brands are now here, but this is not random, if all the major tourism multi-nationals want to invest in Greece and have opened numerous high-class hotels and condos — six stars, even seven stars — then this is proof of the uniqueness of this country,” he said.
He noted the benefit of multinational companies bringing “their tour operators, the airline companies, digital booking, and their own brand in the touristic world, which means more travelers, tourists and high-end visitors as well, so this has a multiplying effect in the country, not only in the field of tourism.”
What’s resulted is more flights into the country from major American cities as well as the Middle East which uses Athens as a jumping-off spot, the city also booming after long been used as a pit stop to to get to the islands.
“Emirates is a success story for Greece and for the company, since for the last few years, Emirates has been flying Newark-Athens-Dubai, in what may have been the company’s most successful route, and a great success for us,” he said. “This has created a pull factor among American airline carriers to serve Greece. Americans are high spenders, and with the favorable value of the euro against the dollar, they can spend more, and this has boosted the capital and the Attica region and our top-branded islands, but also alternative destinations. So, our strategy is to link the Gulf and the countries of the Middle East and Asia with the other side of the Atlantic, and for the center of the equation to be Athens, Thessaloniki and Greece,” he said.
Also capitalizing is Greece’s Aegean Airlines that will mark its silver anniversary in 2024 and consistently rated at the top of carriers in the European Union and surviving bad publicity for holding back refunds during the pandemic and also issuing vouchers instead for many customers.
“We have to compete against 60-70 airlines that fly in and out of Greece,” Aegean Airlines CEO Dimitris Gerogiannis told the site. “We want to be visibly different in the quality of service of website competitors. To achieve our two main goals – quality of service differentiation and very high efficiency and good productivity – we keep investing in our key assets.”