Greece’s tourism industry will see stronger-than-projected growth this year, Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said during a meeting in Thessaloniki with the National Tourism Council.
He estimated that foreign arrivals this year would rise by 7-11 percent when compared with last year. Increases, he said, would come from our traditional west European markets, as well as from the U.S. and Russia.
“We are seeing an improvement in the qualitative indicators of the incoming flows, a direct result of the country’s promotional campaign and the tapping of its positive post-Olympic image,” he said.
Citing data from a National Bank of Greece study and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the minister said it is the first time a country that has staged an Olympic Games registered a pickup in tourism the following year.
Other host countries or cities have usually had to wait two or three years for their tourism sector to recover, he added.
“We are receiving only positive messages. We are through the difficult stage of stabilization and are now entering the recovery stage.
“We are on a good course and even higher growth is forecast for next year,” he said. The minister added that efforts taken to tap the huge Chinese market should start bearing fruit by next mid-winter season.
According to projections, he said, Europe should expect an “invasion” of about 100 million Chinese tourists in the next five years.
Greece is planning direct flights to and from China and will soon open a second national tourism bureau, in Shanghai.
As well, he said the Hellenic Tourism Organization’s promotion campaign, based on the slogan “Live Your Myth in Greece,” has been a success and will continue with certain variations next year, on roughly the same amount of advertising outlay (30 million euros).
Meanwhile, he said it is imperative that the government open the floodgates to tourism investment plans that have been languishing for up to 15 years, and which have been acting as a disincentive for more investment in the industry.
“Big companies wishing to invest are knocking on Greece’s door right now,” he said. “Our goal is to make Greece a top destination for the world’s travelers.”