By L. Karageorgos
The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) held its "Destination Expo" annual convention in Athens this week, with one goal, among others, being a greater promotion of Greece as a holiday destination in the massively lucrative US market.
ASTA president and CEO Zane Kerby welcomed more than 300 travel advisors and 200 industry suppliers and tourism executives for the sold-out three-day trade show, which was inaugurated at the iconic Herod Atticus Odeon at the foot of the Acropolis.
In his comments, he noted that "while Greece is an ASTA favorite, having hosted the event in 1967, 1987 and now 2018, our research study, 'How America Travels', shows that 38 percent of American travelers wish to 'see natural sights' and another 34 percent of American travelers want to 'see historic sites' when they vacation, which this destination (Greece) has the best of both worlds."
Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura said "the United States is an important market for us and through our targeted actions we've experienced double digit growth in the last three years. About one million Americans now visit Greece (annually), and demand is growing from year to year. We look forward to welcoming many more American travelers as a result of this partnership with ASTA.”
On his part, US ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt first emphasized that Greece is a safe and hospitable destination for US holiday-makers. He also noted that the Greek side is implementing new policies to extend the tourism season in the east Mediterranean country, offering new tourism products and attempting to tap new markets.
Among the major US investments he cited in the Greek tourism sector, Pyatt referred to Avis, as well as the Marriott and Wyndham hotel chains, which are expanding in the country.
He also lauded the privatization - by a consortium led by Frankfurt-based Fraport - of 14 regional airports in the country last year, saying the development has significantly boosted efficiency at the facilities.