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Greece Bets on Tourism, Ready for Challenges

Tourism professionals are seeing efforts pay off with data indicating steady growth and plenty of room for improvement in 2017, according to the latest Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) data.

At the same time, Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura is optimistic that the new year will see record figures. Speaking on Athens News Agency radio earlier today, Kountoura said the ministry’s goal is to achieve the most extensive promotion of Greece as a tourist destination with the smallest budget.

“The goal for 2017 is with minimal funds to promote our tourism product to new markets such as the Middle East, China, South Korea and India,” she said, adding that 2016 came to a positive close with over ’’27.5 million tourists’’.

In the meantime, SETE – pointing to the challenges posed by increasing taxation – is referring to a two-speed tourism sector: namely, those enterprises operating in and benefiting from popular ‘’brand name areas’’ and those in parts of Greece that have not been promoted or are unknown to tourists. 

SETE stresses that excessive taxation will not only exacerbate the problem of seasonality, particularly for smaller businesses, but will also hinder investments in tourism thus leading to even greater problems including the inability of smaller enterprises to absorb the new costs passing them on to their customers as well as to hire new employees.

According to SETE, among the factors to play a decisive role for tourism this year are the exchange rate fluctuations of the pound or the euro, market reactions to incoming US President Donald Trump’s policies, the ongoing negotiations for Greece’s debt relief program as well as geopolitical issues including the refugee influx and developments in the Middle East.

Tourism is the country’s third biggest employer,  accounting for more than 10 percent of the workforce during peak season and with more than 800,000 working directly or indirectly in the sector between 2009 and 2016. This figure is expected to exceed 1 million by 2021.


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