Is the Greek Tourism Image in the German Market in Crisis? (Part 1)


by Jonas Rehmet

In the past few years, the Greek tourism industry was sent on a rollercoaster ride. While since 2007 numbers of international arrivals decreased, numbers unexpectedly rocketed up in 2011, went down in 2012 and up again this year. Evidently something is cooking in the kitchen of Greek tourism. Besides the main ingredient – the Greek tourism product – one should not forget about other important components, such the source markets.  In this blog entry we present and assess three studies on the image of Greece in the German market.  Part 2 (coming soon) will present the results of our own preliminary research, conducted at INPOLIS, on the tourist image of Greece in selected German research.

At present, in the midst of a deep crisis, Greece expects a record in international arrivals of 17 million after a sharp decline in 2012. Last year it seemed as if Greece was to take another hit in a serious battle for survival when the tourism sector experienced a major downturn. Visitors from Germany and the UK, Greece’s two largest source markets, were spooked by the country’s instability with the result of choosing alternative holiday destinations in 2012. Astonishingly enough, despite the effects of the global crisis, the tourism industry in Greece, which contributes 15 percent of the GDP, showed outstanding durability and had an unforeseen strong comeback in 2013.

tourism figures (2)

Source: World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

Although Greek tourism seems to be on the path of recovery, it is worthwhile having a look at the perception Greece’s destination image in its biggest source market Germany.

Therefore in the following, a brief overview of three studies will be presented in order to paint a picture of what the effects of the crisis are on tourism in Greece.

travel industry club

Source: Travel Industry Club, Trendscope (2012). TOP decision-maker panel of the tourism industry Febuary 2012: Greece

In February 2012, Travel Industry Club conducted a survey on the country image of Greece during the TOP decision-maker panel 2012. 250 Members of the German association “Travel Industry Club” were questioned on the topic of Greece via an online survey. The outcome was not very flattering for Greece as the overall image was far from good at the time. The German industry members largely agreed (82 percent) that travels to Greece were especially hard to sell in the German market due to anti-German resentments, strikes and riots at the destination. Moreover 81 percent fully or partially agreed with the statement that Greece will become a “money sink” for the other EU-member states. With the situation at the time and the before mentioned attitude in mind, it is no surprising news that 48 percent of those polled agreed that the image of Greece is currently experiencing irreparable damage. From consumer point of view there was also good news since 49 percent of the sample supported the assumption that holidays in Greece will be cheaper due to the crisis.

future institute greece image

Source: Foundation of Future Studies (2012). Image of Holiday Destinations: What Germans connect with Holiday Destinations

Another study by the Institute for Future Questions headed by Prof. Dr. Reinhard looked at what German holidaymakers connect with certain holiday destinations. The results for Greece where what one would expect and did not come surprisingly – Beaches (bathing facilities), many attractions, contrast to everyday life and a diverse cuisine were among the most prominent connections people made. Possibly due to the preset set of answers, variety was impossible which resulted in a lack of deep insights. Nevertheless one might conclude that Greece still strongly represents the typical attributes of a “sun, sand and sea” destination.

IPSOS brözel greece image

Source: IPSOS Observer, Prof. Dr. Brözel (2012). What image is connected with Greece as Holiday Destination

A second study with similar research design using the same method of quantitative data accumulation fortunately provides us with a larger set of possible answers. The results of the study by IPSOS Observer and Prof. Dr. Brözel of University of Applied Sciences Eberswalde support the findings of the preceding study and offer even more information on the image of Greece in the German market. The most mentioned tourism asset of Greece (63 percent) is the richness of great cultural and historical attractions, other findings such as the mental connection to beautiful beaches a diverse landscape are congruent with previous studies. More interestingly this study shows that the famous “filoxenia”, the Greek hospitality, is still widely recognized. This and the linking to “individual accommodations” are probably the strongest features, which could give Greece that needed competitive edge to set itself apart from other “sun, sand and sea” destinations in competition.

IPSOS brözel frage 1

Source: IPSOS Observer, Prof. Dr. Brözel (2012). What image is connected with Greece as Holiday Destination

Apart from the questions about the image of Greece, this study goes more in depth by posing additional questions relating to the recent events in Greece.

The second part of the study focused more strongly on the perceived effects of the crisis rather than on what the current image of Greece is. According to 18 percent of the sample, Greece is no longer an option to them as a holiday destination because the political situation threatens the security of holidaymakers.

Another 13 percent believe Greece is not an option as a holiday destination, because the supply situation is bad as well for holidaymakers. These simple questions very clearly show an overall perception of a country most probably based only on hearsay, although reality might differ strongly depending on the region.

IPSOS brözel frage 2

Source: IPSOS Observer, Prof. Dr. Brözel (2012). What image is connected with Greece as Holiday Destination

Last, but not least 7 percent of the overall population hold the assumption that it would be less expensive to travel to Greece. Moreover 5 percent see the bright side of the crisis by assuming that there will be less people in Greece due to the instable political situation. After all not everything needs to be bad in a crisis.

It is too early to tell whether Greece’s boom in tourism arrivals is sustainable or just the product of bargain prices, newly developed source markets such as Russia and China or the even larger instability of competing destinations (e.g. Turkey) . However one thing seems to be certain – the Greek tourism industry is on the move while the traditional source market Germany is slowly but surely fading away.

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4 Responses to Is the Greek Tourism Image in the German Market in Crisis? (Part 1)


  2. Pingback: A very short return to Bergen with the eyes turned to Greece still… | Medieval Sai Project

  3. Cheoy Lee says:

    Really interesting, I hope Greece can sustain some success, it’s such a beautiful place!

  4. Harry says:

    Many Holiday makers have found Greece to be expensive, however the best way to holiday in Greece is a DIY holiday, arrange your own travel by air or car, hire a private villa which can be shared with a large group or family, reducing the rental cost and cooking your own meals for these days you don’t want to go out.

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