Romanians investing in Greece: Christian Tour takes domestic experience to Corfu

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Interview with Marius Pandel, CEO Christian Tour.

M. Pandel

Mr. Pandel, Christian Tour is the only tour operator which owns a hotel – Memento Kassiopi Resort – in the Greek island Corfu with 100 percent Romanian shareholding. What led you to invest here in 2014 and how profitable is this business after a year of operation?

Christian Tour already has an experience of 18 years on the Romanian tourism market, recording significant increases from year to year, both in terms of number of tourists and operated destinations. Since the beginning of our activity, we relied a lot on Greece as a perfect holiday destination for the Romanians. The large number of charters that we annually organize (by bus and plane), to many regions and islands of Greece made us famous and known as the No. 1 tour operator for this destination.

The experience gained over time regarding the activity with hoteliers and partners, local tour operators in Greece, has opened us the doors to new business ideas to complete our tourism activity. This is how Memento Kassiopi Resort 4* from Greek island Corfu appeared.

hotel

The hotel was very well received on local market, with many guests from all over Romania, throughout the summer of 2014.

But the hotel is very much sought also by other markets like Central Europe, Scandinavia or UK. The occupancy rate of over 95 percent throughout the 2014 summer season makes us confident to say that it was a very good year for our hotel, and we are confident that 2015 will be as good as 2014 was.

 

Do you have in mind to expand this business model in other areas of Greece? How looks like the legislative framework in Greece for a foreign investor like you, compared to the local one?

We intend to invest in other hotels in the future, following the same system, but to other islands of Greece. The legislative framework is permissive for foreign investors, but a great help for us was the experience gained all these years in organizing vacations for Romanians. Being, in our turn, customers in many hotels, we perfectly understand what they want, namely both tour operators and tourists.

 

Greece remains among the Romanians’ favorites holiday destination. According to the data you currently have, how many tourists bought travel packages this year through Christian Tour to the Greek islands, compared to the same period of 2014, considering the early-booking period and the spring edition of the Tourism Fair held at Romexpo?

As every year, we record an increasing interest for Greece’s destinations. In the first part of the year, almost 50 percent of the packages designed for the summer of 2015 were sold. We already have some sold out voyages for the departures in the first part of the season (end of May, beginning of June). Tourism Fair was also a good opportunity to popularize our summer offers, especially in Greece, Turkey, Spain, Italy. During the four days of the fair, Christian Tour reached record sales of EUR 1.6 million and 5,464 tourists have booked a holiday with us this year.

 

Despite the fact that the Greek state is still crossing a rough period economically speaking, tourism segment remains Greece’s trump in its attempt to recover. In your opinion is this just the advantage of the geographically strategic location or is simply a business lesson?

Greece is the perfect place to spend your vacation, in our view. All our destinations have their special charm, but Greece manages to bring all together. Every island, every city, every little place in Greece offers something unique. Greece is blessed in terms of geography, location, climate, but it also benefits from an unparalleled historical significance. All this combined have made the perfect destination where you can return again and again without ever getting bored. The fact that tourism is a highly developed industry and always expanding, but also the attention that locals give tourists transforms it into a model for us to follow. It is not just the authorities or legislative framework, but an entire culture that “worships” tourism.

 

What is the percentage that travel packages bound for Greece have to Christian Tour’s financial success of 18 years?

Packages for Greece represents about 60 percent of holidays operated by Christian Tour; we have most of the charters flying towards Greek islands and although we constantly invest in the growth of new destinations and unique locations for our tourists, it continues to be a growing interest for Greek destinations among Romanian tourists.

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