The success story of our industry is widely acknowledged. In spite of the crisis, and even in the midst of it, the Greek tourism sector has continued to achieve its targets and support the Greek Economy both in financial and social terms. Our sector continues to be one of the leading contributors to GDP and – in a year that the country welcomed a record 17.9 million international visitors who accounted for 12.2 billion euros in direct receipts – it is no coincidence that, in 2013, Greece posted a primary budget surplus for the first time in a decade. Going forward, the Greek Tourism Confederation has just revised its 2014 international arrivals target – from 18.5 million to 19.5 million; for a total of 21.5 million if we count cruise ship visitors. We also anticipate that total tourism revenue may well exceed 13.5 billion Euros this year.
The stabilisation of Greece’s economy has contributed to ensuring that the country is, once again, projecting a positive image abroad. Greece is one of the world’s leading travel destinations, combining a wealth of natural beauty, sea and sun, cultural heritage and a diverse array of unique experiences ranging from culinary tours to spa and wellness treatments. Furthermore, Greece has an excellent online reputation ranking, particularly when compared with competing destinations.
As the newest Social Partner of the Greek Government, from early on we developed a strategic roadmap for tourism with a view to 2021. According to the roadmap, we anticipate strong, stable and sustainable growth. Our goal is to attract 22 to 24 million international visitors and generate 19 billion Euros in direct revenue by 2021. This increase in visitor numbers and revenue would add 9 points to GDP and result in the creation of another 300,000 jobs, for a total of 1 million. According to the roadmap, in order to achieve these figures by 2021, we must invest 3.3 billion euros annually in the tourism sector. There is an immediate need to create 150,000 new hotel beds and upgrade another 100,000 in the 4* and 5* categories. Moreover, we must invest in infrastructure that will pave the way for attracting affluent, experienced travellers with greater spending power.
The next few years will be critical for Greece’s tourism industry. SETE is working towards the implementation of a thorough plan aimed at improving the standards of products and services offered, while investing in education and training, both for those working in the industry and Greek society as a whole. It is our duty to continue to support the Greek economy and ensure a better future for generations to come.