Key Tourism Figures 2016: Dinos Frantzeskakis, President Hellenic Association of Airline Representatives
Despite the harsh economic realities in Greece, the refugee problem, tax hikes across-the-board and a 7-year recession, tourism has once again risen as the beacon of recovery and has helped the economy towards an improvement in GDP for 2016. Unemployment figures are also improving thanks to new tourism projects all over Greece.
Our main goal for 2017 is to maintain or increase arrivals across the country by encouraging airline companies to open new routes or additional frequencies. A positive development is the privatization of 14 regional airports and subsequent contract of improvements or renovations awarded to Fraport. The face lift will begin November 1, 2016, and all works will be completed in four years time.
Already, this coming summer, airlines will experience both operational and service area improvements in key airports such as those in Thessaloniki, Mykonos, Santorini and Chania. The inauguration of Paros’ new terminal and runway extension this year has yielded additional traffic not only for Paros, but also neighboring island destinations such as Naxos. Hydroplanes’ infrastructure and legislation are moving forward mainly in the Ionian Sea and are expected to be operating by next summer — as a specialty service for higher-end tourism.
Negotiations for the contract extension of Athens International Airport (AIA) are still on-going with the State and airport operators, hopefully nearing completion soonest. Once signed, the new contract will allow a substantial decrease in airport fees, so that AIA will become much more competitive than presently.
Finally, Athens has proven resilient and is reestablishing itself as a preferred tourism destination, on its own right. The Hellinikon massive infrastructure development, finally approved by the Greek parliament, as well as the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) will transform the Athens coastline and create a truly amazing experience for both visitors and locals, equal only to top city destinations globally.