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Designing a Viable Marketing Plan

For a long time, Greece has been one of the world’s leading tourist destinations (Wallop 2010). The country has been receiving over 16 million tourists every year, with higher numbers being registered during special events and functions like the 2004 Olympic Games (Charter 2010). The country’s ability to attract a large number of tourists has greatly contributed to its rather high living standards which stem directly the good economy of the country.

Until recently, Greece’s economy was ranked by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the 27th largest in the world as far as nominal gross domestic product is concerned; and the third largest globally in terms of expenditure or repurchasing power parity (Wallop 2010). The country’s tourism sector is among the most important sectors, accounting for up to 16% or one-fifth of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) (Wallop 2010). The tourism sector is also among the leading sources of jobs for the country, offering 1 in every 5 job opportunities or 20% of the jobs in the country.

As such, it is a very critical sector which needs to be kept running (Charter 2010). However, the global economic crisis is wrecking havoc in this critical sector, threatening it with the

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danger of shrinking to a point of demise unless concerted efforts are put in place to rescue it (Dritsakis & Athanasiadis 2008). As a crucial sector to the country’s economy, the economic performance of the country is tied to the ability of the sector to perform well. Instead, Greece has been ranked as one of the European countries that have failed to recover well after the global economic crisis.

Grouped together with the so-called PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain), Greece seems to be the most economically hard-hit nation, struggling to reduce its huge budget deficit (Charter 2010). The country has had to seek international assistance in order to finance its large budget deficit. By extension, the country is currently one of the most heavily indebted in the euro zone, having to borrow widely in order to finance its ailing economy (Wallop 2010). Though the problems brought about by the global economic crisis have been experienced in all the country’s critical sectors, tourism has been the hardest hit.

International tourism is estimated to have fallen by about 13% as per October 2009 projections. According to the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) and the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels and the National Statistical Service of Greece, the future of the sector is bleak enough to warrant drastic counter measures (European Commission 2009). The number of visitors from the United Kingdom, one of the leading sources of international tourists to the country, has also declined (Dritsakis & Athanasiadis 2008).

Among the measures that are needed is the designing of a targeted marketing plan for the British tourists who account for a significant proportion of the tourists who visit the country annually (OECD 2008). This is because since the onset of the global economic crisis, the number of British tourists visiting the country has been reducing. The number of British tourists to Greece, according to the Civil Aviation Administration, totals a massive 3. 5 million. As such, Britain is among the leading sources of tourist to the country (IMF 2010).

However, the relations between the tourism ministry in Greece and some UK tourists have not been good, with the former citing indecent conduct and general misbehavior as a reason. For instance, it is believed that in the one year starting from 1st April 2009 to 31st March 2010, different types of incidents of indecent behavior involving British tourists in Greece occurred (European Commission 2009). They resulted in 149 deaths, 471 hospitalizations, and 222 arrests for different offences. During the same period of time, a total of 496 cases required assistance with regard to loss of passports.

In view of these instances, the Greek government has always advised British tourists to behave in a good manner, a factor that might have be partly to blame for the decline in British tourists to the country (IMF 2010). It has been noted in the past that most of the indecent acts of the Britons in Greece have been attributed to drunkenness, particularly where young people are concerned. This has been having a negative impact on the country’s tourism sector to some extent as tourists from elsewhere have tended to associate these incidents with Greece (Dritsakis & Athanasiadis 2008).

It is believed that in order to have them coming back, a vigorous marketing strategy will be needed. This is because the strained relations between Greek tourism officials and the some British tourists need to be put behind and a new chapter of relations opened. This is the time for the Greek government to seek to lure even more Britons to the country because they are a key source of the much-needed tourism revenue. Finally, the problems that have bedeviled the tourism sector in Greece have a direct link to the nature in which the entire sector is structured.

Structural problems account for the most losses incurred in the sector prior to the global economic crisis (European Commission 2009). These have included an over-reliance on tour operators, attraction of tourists who tend to spend too little, and low-skilled staff. These are the main challenges that the Greek tourism sector faces. And although they touch on international tourists as a general group, those from Britain are an important group for they contribute a significant amount of revenue to the sector annually (OECD 2010).

Dealing with these challenges ought to be a major focus of the tourism sector of Greece (Dritsakis & Athanasiadis 2008). The Britons, in spite of the unruly behavior of some of them, ought to be reached again so they can start visiting the country’s historical sites and other tourist destinations. The Research Problem Owing to the current state of the economy of Greece and the consequences it is having on its people and key sectors, it is important that a solution is sought to revive it.

Revival of the economy can only succeed if the key sectors worst affected are targeted and helped to recover. The tourism sector, as can be deduced from the background to this study, is a very critical one. It needs to be restructured and brought back to its former position when it attracted over 16 million tourists annually, of which nearly 3. 5 million came from Britain alone. Reviving it has to include ways of bringing the Britons back to the country. It for this purpose that the following research problem will be the focus of the research:

Greece’s current economic situation and its impacts on the country’s tourism sector: how a viable marketing plan for British tourists can be designed as part of the economic recovery measures. Similarly, the following will be the main research question: How has Greece’s current economic situation impacted on the country’s tourism sector; and how can a viable marketing plan for British tourists be designed as part of the economic recovery measures? The Objectives of the Research

Owing to the nature of the research, it will be important for specific objectives to be defined so as to aid in coming up with appropriate solutions to the research question. These objectives are important not only because they help in narrowing down the research question to manageable aspects that can be effectively measured but also because they allow for a better, concise, and succinct review of the relevant literature; a formulation of hypotheses; and a development of an appropriate research design. For this research, therefore, the following are the six main objectives to be attained:

1. To carry out a critical evaluation of Greece’s current economic situation with respect to its relative competitiveness in the European Union and the world at large. 2. To review the effects that the country’s current economic crisis is having and is bound to have on British tourists in particular and international tourists in general. 3. To assess and critically appraise the country’s austerity measures and the impacts they are having and are likely have on British tourists who have been visiting the country in large numbers.

4. To establish the factors that determine whether or not British tourist will visit Greece and make the country their leading tourist destination. 5. To ascertain the extent to which British tourists can help in turning around the fortunes of the tourism sector in Greece with a view to making a decision on whether or not to involve them in recovery efforts. 6. To propose an ideal marketing strategy for British tourists so as to enhance the recovery of the Greek tourism sector. Hypotheses

In order to enhance the chances of success of any research, it is imperative that appropriate hypotheses are formulated to further guide the research process. Hypotheses ensure that during the entire process of research, the key research objectives are approached from perspectives that make it easier to establish whether or not the objectives have been attained or not. Hypotheses achieve this by trying to predict the outcome of the research based on facts that are either available through literature or from the postulation of possible outcomes of the various methods that will be used to collect data for the actual research.

On this basis and on the basis of the literature to be reviewed, the following hypotheses have been formulated for the research: 1. British tourists are very important players in the Greek tourism sector without which the sector cannot fully recover. 2. The decline in the number of British tourists visiting Greece contributed significantly to current crisis that the tourism sector in the country is facing. 3. Getting the British Tourists to start visiting Greece in large numbers again through an effective and targeted marketing plan is crucial for the recovery of the Greek tourism sector.

Suggested Literature Review The success of any research is to a large extent determined by an ability to review what others have written or commented on a similar matter. For this particular research, it will be about reviewing literature regarding marketing as it applies to the field of tourism. It will cover aspects like qualitative and quantitative marketing research, how to deal with marketing challenges especially in times of crises, and the methods to use so as to effectively appeal to a certain target market.

Some of the literature reviewed will be employing the use of cases and examples from successful marketing elsewhere in tourism sector such as in Switzerland, Germany, and Italy. Listed below are main sources of the literature that will be reviewed for this research, each source having a different aspect as it pertains to using a marketing plan to benefit a nation or a sector in the tourism industry. Some deal with methods, while others present cases of successful use of marketing. A few deal with the subject of managing the tourism sector in times of crisis.

On the whole, they offer a lot of insight into the issues surrounding targeted marketing for the tourism sector. 1. Arora, RK 2007. Successful Tourism Marketing. Mohit Publications 2. Boniface, B 2009. Worldwide Destinations: The Geography of Travel and Tourism. Butterworth-Heinemann 3. Briggs, S 2001. Successful tourism marketing: a practical handbook. Kogan Page Publishers 4. Chen, J 2007. Advances in Hospitality and Leisure, Volume 3. Emerald Group Publishing 5. Curtz, D 2009. Contemporary Marketing. Cengage Learning 6. Dritsakis, N & Athanasiadis, S 2008.

“An Econometric Model of Tourist Demand: The Case of Greece. ” 08/17/2010 from: http://users. uom. gr/~drits/publications/tourist_demand. pdf 7. Foreign & Commonwealth Office 2010. “Travel and Living Abroad: Greece. ” Retrieved 08/17/2010 from: http://www. fco. gov. uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/europe/greece 8. Georgiopoulos, G 2010. “Austerity hits Greek economy harder than forecast. ” Reuters. Retrieved 08/17/2010 from: http://www. reuters. com/article/idUSTRE67B2E320100812 9. Hague, P 2002. Market research: a guide to planning, methodology & evaluation.

Kogan Page Publishers 10. Hall, CH 2004. Wine, food, and tourism marketing. Routledge 11. Henderson, JC 2007. Tourism crises: causes, consequences and management. Butterworth-Heinemann, 2007 12. IMF 2010. “Greece Program on Track, but Challenges Ahead. ” Kathimerini. Retrieved 08/17/2010 from: http://www. imf. org/external/np/vc/2010/080810. htm 13. Kolb, B 2006. Tourism Marketing for cities and towns: using branding and events to attract tourism. Butterworth-Heinemann 14. Kotler. Marketing for Hospitality and Tourism, 4/e. Pearson Education 15. Kozak, M 2006. Progress in tourism marketing.

Elsevier 16. Malhotra, S 2009. Marketing Research: An Applied Orientation, 5/e. Pearson Education, 2009 17. Michael, MR; Fox, JB & Johnson, RB 2000. “Identifying Competitive Strategies for Successful Tourism Destination Development. ” Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management, Volume 3, Issue 1 July 1995, 37 – 45 18. Middleton, V 2009. Marketing in Travel and Tourism. Butterworth-Heinemann 19. O’Connor, P 2008. Information and Communication Technologies in Tourism 2008: Proceedings of the International Conference in Innsbruck, Austria, 2008. ???????????????? 20.

Pons, PO 2009. Cultures of Mass Tourism: Doing the Mediterranean in the Age of Banal Mobilities. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. 21. Prideaux, B 2010. Managing tourism and hospitality services: theory and international applications. CABI 22. Rialp, A 2007. International marketing research: opportunities and challenges in the 21st century. Emerald Group Publishing 23. Rowan, Y 2004. Marketing heritage: archaeology and the consumption of the past. Rowman Altamira 24. Smith, S 2005. Fundamentals of marketing research. SAGE 25. Wallop, H 2010. “Greece: why did its economy fall so hard?

” The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 08/17/2010 from: http://www. telegraph. co. uk/news/worldnews/europe/greece/7646320/Greece-why-did-its-economy-fall-so-hard. html 26. Wong, K 2003. Tourism forecasting and marketing. Routledge 27. Wrenn, B 2002. Marketing research: text and cases. Routledge The Research Design In order to conduct the research, different approaches will be used. As has been earlier mentioned, this research will seek to market the Greek tourism sector to British tourists who have suddenly decided not to visit the country owing to their reduced ability to spend.

To find out an appropriate marketing strategy, therefore, it is important that characteristics of the target sample (the British tourists) is ascertained; the aim being to appeal to them and have them making Greece their ultimate tourist destination (Seidel 1998). Some of the factors that are worth considering in any marketing plan are special events, the weather, and finances. For British tourists, however, an additional, specific, factor will need to be included as well. This is the assurance that they will be free from harassment by Greek authorities. Based on these factors, an appropriate marketing plan can be drawn.

The design should allow for the measurement of these and other factors that are key in the determination of where to visit and when to visit. Considering qualitative research, it has an ability to offer a wide rang of information regarding a potential market as are the British tourists. Actually, marketing research is almost always successful when it is approached or carried out using a qualitative method of research (Seidel 1998). Considering British tourists, for instance, they fall into very many categories. There are young singles, married couples, old singles, young children, school children, executives, among others.

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