Facing a season where incoming tourism in Rhodes and Greece in general has been hit drastically this year in comparison to 2011 which reached record breaking results, today the results seem unimaginable.
Rodiaki (Rhodes local newspaper) seized the opportunity to interview Mr. Franco Campazzo and Mr. Roberto Ruocco, two top executives from the second biggest Italian tour operator namely “Eden Viaggi”.
Rodiaki asked the two directors to give their professional advice on the situation from the point of view of the Italian market and the effects on Rhodes as a destination.
“In the past Rhodes was high priority on the list and without a doubt one of the most popular Greek destinations. Now unfortunately it is not … but it still sells!”
In the south of the island, I had the pleasure to meet up with the two esteemed executives from Eden Viaggi, Mr Franco Campazzo and Mr. Roberto Ruocco. The south of the island is a particular favorite of the Italian tourists where Eden Viaggi collaborate with first class impressive hotels.
The interview took place in a relaxed atmosphere, but they were very serious when they spoke of the crisis of today, expressing that “despite the harsh reductions in the bookings from Italy, Rhodes has left a positive impression which is mainly due to the fact that the Italians still love Greece and Rhodes as a destination for their holidays.
In fact, this season is paying for a crisis which the Italians are going through as well - not on the same level as Greece but in Italy it has an effect on the tourist season. ‘Suffering’ is the expression that Mr. Franco will use on more than one occasion to describe the current situation of one of the leading Tour Operators from Italy.
They explained that at the time of this meeting the current decrease in tourism from Italy is -45% for the period April-May. The two executives pointed out that “it was difficult to speak generally” and to pin-point the reasons for the reduction of tourists from the Italian market. The most probable reason is their fear of strikes/riots or unforeseeable episodes which might evolve in Greece due to the current economic situation, this indeed is sufficient to influence the people in our region to choose alternative destinations. The instability of Greece is also a question mark!
The information the media broadcasts around the world showing strikes and political uncertainty in Greece serves as an obstacle in motivating people to book holidays in your country.
The current crisis affects everyone, not just Greece. ‘Everyone thinks that things will be cheaper’ Mr. Franco stressed. There are lots of explanations that can be connected to the decrease in tourist arrivals from Italy. One of those reasons could be that the Italians are perhaps afraid to travel to Greece. Despite the fact that prior to the start of the season several attempts were made by the local Travel Agents to provide a true image of what was happening on the islands and that the whole of Greece is not Syntagma Square.
As Mr. Franco explained people assume that whatever is happening in Athens refers to the whole of Greece, these are the images that the tourists are getting which of course are disturbing, and creates a negative reaction from our country. The Italian media also made a big issue of the Drachma.
«Tough year» is the answer to the question ‘what is your perception of the way things are headed in tourism?’ Tough year not only to send clients but also to receive. Nevertheless, concerning the Italians, they are not cancelling their holidays but minimizing the duration.
When the damage is done it is done, says Mr. Franco, no one is getting true images and information about the real situation in the destination “In order to sell you must strike with primeval instincts which is fear and love!”
This season is a "disaster” it is a season which is “burnt out”, a bad omen from start. Mr. Franco believes that the course of the season will not be affected so badly by the Italian market. He says that Greece is always a country with opportunity, even during a crisis. Every year there is a destination that does not sell. The statistics for Rhodes show for his company a decrease of -30%, however, we believe that things will get better as the season progresses and that it will close with a loss of -25% .
Indeed, it is interesting the way he describes Rhodes as a tourist destination, from the point of view of the person called to sell to his countrymen: "In the past it was the best destination every day. Now not every day, but it still sells! "
We asked Mr. Franco regarding the "phenomenon" of Karpathos in recent years ... which has become very popular in the Italian market. He simply said that there were not enough beds until the implementation of recent hotel developments and good services, which has now boosted the sales in this destination. He confirmed that, Karpathos is now more popular than Rhodes for the Italians and this season will probably close with a -5% reduction in sales in comparison to 2011. The same applies for Kos which has become a firm choice for his countrymen. This is not happening in other Greek islands, for example Samos, says Mr. Franco “is suffering”.
Another aspect is the competitiveness of a destination. The current situation for Crete is far more damaged than Rhodes (Rhodes is managing) Crete on the other hand is suffering very much, with a small number of Italian tourists. As Mr. Franco explains, from the point of view of an experienced travel agent, that the Italians come to Greece because it is the best tourist destination. "This is not about friendship." The first criterion for the Italians when choosing a destination are the beaches of Rhodes, of course Rhodes, has some of the best.
However, the tour operators did expect lower prices in Greece this year. As for <Eden Viaggi>, “we are a strange tour operator”, working with a few hotels who offer the right services. As for how we judge our own services, “improvement” is the answer. He believes, however, that as the season progresses it will improve as many tour operators’ in Italy are waiting for last minute deals he adds that everyone will try to sign contracts in Euros to keep some stability. They believe that tour operators’ from Italy will proceed to renegotiate their contracts even when there is a time of crisis. He stresses further that the real loss is with group bookings that are supposed to come at the end of the season but are cancelled for other destinations. The aim of the game’ is to target at individuals, which we are working on a day to day basis.
Mr. Franco often mentions the word "suffering," referring to those involved in tourism and as the numbers are not up to expectation, notes that all partners share the same difficulties as "it is important to stay in the market."
An interview by reporter Kiriaki Petridou from RODIAKI Newspaper
10 June 2012 edition – Rhodes www.rodiaki.gr