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by Georges Panayotis

It may seem paradoxical to mention both beach resort hospitality and the conflicts that are upsetting the economies in Mediterranean countries in a single editorial. However, just as the wings of a butterfly in Brazil can cause a tornado in Texas, geopolitics also have their consequences on the tourist economy which must adapt and readjust its offer constantly.

The "classic" model of the 2000s that favors the migration of tourists hailing from Northern countries towards sunny destinations on African shores in the Mediterranean, has been upset by popular revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, tension in Morocco and the repercussions of conflicts in the Near and Middle East. The flux of tourists has become more chaotic and haphazard with the events that have marked the last five years. A new map of beach resort destinations is taking shape, but its contours are increasingly fluctuating and fragile. Croatia, Turkey and Greece first benefited from new arrivals of tourists who are used to good deals. Spain, France and Italy have also ridden the wave of vacationers seeking tranquility and sun, but have not always been able to satisfy this new demand with an appropriate offer.

Today, the Eastern Mediterranean is affected by the view offered to us by the media of cohorts of migrants fleeing zones of conflict and transforming beaches and beach resorts into transit camps. Southern Europe is better known for its image of a Riviera for well-to-do clientele and has not managed to capture family clientele who have seen their vacation budget chipped away at by the fear of unemployment and the bad economy in the West.

As France attempts to undertake a new tourism strategy, backed by a minister who leads international affairs as well as the economic development of the sector, it would be wise to direct considerations toward new leisure products that our countries may propose. Although this may appear secondary, in light of the energy challenges of the future COP 21 and the violent explosions bombarding the entire world, there is no reason to ignore the rationalization of this sector that generates jobs, revenue, mobility and points of growth.

But we mustn't put the cart before the horse and get all worked up about digital distribution when it is necessary first and foremost to examine the products that need to be commercialized. The models exist and have already demonstrated their pertinence for both a young and not so young clientele. "Hybrid" offers in both cities and coastal areas where generations, budgets and expectations mingle are still in the laboratory stage. The time has come to bring about a Spring for the tourism supply, to encourage the investments needed to shift from startup to the industrial era by pulling the right levers.

The transformation could be led by new players if legitimate groups do not rise up and use their power and their networks to deploy the concepts under elaboration. It is true that leisure hotels, tourism residences, campgrounds and furnished apartments remain prisoners of old economic models that have been stiffened by administrative standards. And yet the differences between each segment are increasingly unclear in light of customers with very different natures who are looking for a good quality/price value adapted to their budget.

Despite all the climatic, social and political perturbations, the right to holiday and relaxation is evident. The market exists and is growing with the arrival of new national and international clientele. But don't miss this shift... the risk is to find oneself in the position of urban hotels, which are threatened by all forms of sharing accommodations. 

About Georges Panayotis

Georges Panayotis is President of MKG Consulting. Born in a family of hoteliers for three generations, Georges Panayotis, 51, left Greece at the age of 18 to pursue his studies in Political Sciences and to obtain his Master in Management at the French University of Paris Dauphine. He then joined the Novotel chain, which will become the Accor Group, to manage the International Marketing Division. After developing specific marketing tools for the hotel industry, he left the group in 1986 to start his own company, MKG Conseil, now MKG Group. In twenty years, the group has become the European leader in studies and consulting for the Hospitality industry. The company employs over 70 people in four departments: marketing studies, database, quality control and trade press, with two publications HTR Magazine and Hotel Restaurant Weekly. The company helped the development of over 2,000 hotels in France and in Europe, with offices in Paris, Cyprus and London. Georges Panyotis is the founder of the Worldwide Hospitality Awards and the Hotel Makers Forum, and the author of several publications on Marketing and Operations in the hotel business, He is a regular consultant for several television channels, among which Bloomberg Television, and radio networks.

Contact: Georges Panayotis

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