Greek tourism—stronger than ever
Greek tourism is booming: the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) said it expects a record 30 million visitors to Greece in 2017, which is a 7% growth over last year, or 2 million more visitors, and close to 1 million of them will be American.
The last two years, says Forbes, Greece’s growth is twice the global industry and it reports that the GNTO is helping it along by increasing routes by air, land and sea and focusing on segments of the market and select itineraries such as religious, cultural, adventure, yachting, diving, luxury and also LGBT. And it’s also trying to reach the biggest markets, such as China, which long held Greece as a premiere destination.
The World Travel & Tourism Council said that the growth in tourism might give a shot to the Greek economy by almost 7%, boost employment by 6.3% and support nearly 1 million jobs. In fact, the council says, one in every five jobs in Greece has to do with tourism and for every 30 tourists who visit Greece one Greek job is created.
“We are very optimistic about the upcoming tourist season and our continued momentum,” said Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura. “Greece’s incomparable natural beauty, ancient history, vibrant urban culture and spirit of ‘philotimo’ make it one of the world’s most unique and desired year-round destinations.”
Taleb Rifai, the UNWTO Secretary General, said while visiting Greece earlier this year, “Greece is one of the most popular and attractive global destinations, which enhances its international appeal and continues to record high performance.”
He said, “Over the last two years, Greece has successfully addressed challenges by implementing a new tourism policy focused on extending the travel season, promoting new thematic products, opening new markets, boosting connectivity, promoting new Greek destinations and attracting new tourism investments. The result is a major improvement of Greece’s image around the world.”
Travel & Leisure magazine has rated Santorini as the #1 Island Overall and The New York Times called Athens one of the “52 Places to Go in 2017.”
To make the trip easier, Forbes reports new flights and connections, including daily year-round service by Emirates to Athens from Newark Liberty International Airport. And destinations like Kos, Rhodes, Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu, Kephalonia, Zakynthos, Aktio and Thessaloniki will now have direct flights or connections to a larger number of European cities, as well as the U.S., China, India, Russia and Israel.
“We’re very pleased that Emirates has added daily service to Athens. The new route provides much needed year-round non-stop daily service between the U.S. and Greece,” said Greta Kamaterou, GNTO’s North American marketing director. “Combined with the most stable ports in the region for cruise ships, we’re very optimistic about 2017.”
The bottom line: visit Greece now and do your part to create a job and help the economy—but also visit because, as always, you’ll get to spend time with friends and family and feel right at home in one of the most desirable places on earth. Anyway, you won’t be able to reach any of your relatives here because they’ll all be there and sending you pictures and posts to make you jealous.
Enjoy you summer—in Greece.