Kountoura: Greece’s Tourism Growth is Not Accidental
By Nikos Krinis in Berlin
Following two consecutive years of record-breaking results, 2017 is turning into another year of dynamic growth for Greece as a global attractive tourism destination, according to Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura.
“Greek tourism this year began on a high note and we are hoping that this will continue,” Minister Kountoura told the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) on the sidelines of the ITB travel trade show running in Berlin.
Referring to the latest figures that see Greece among the top-selling destinations for Germany this year, Minister Kountoura underlined that Greece has earned the respect of all due to its reliability.
“Tour operators saw and felt the changes and witnessed the development of our tourism product,” she said, adding that in just two years the tourism ministry’s strategy has succeeded in prolonging the season from March until November — thanks to the addition of more flights to Greece — and attracting a double digit figure in early bookings for the next season.
Speaking during a press conference on the first day of ITB, the president of the German Travel Association (DRV), Norbert Fiebig, said that early bookings for Greece are currently recording an increase of some 70 percent this year compared to 2016. Tour operators FTI and Schauinsland-Reisen have reported high sales for Greece and travel giant TUI is seeing a 30 percent booking surge.
Minister Kountoura echoed a statement made by UNWTO Taleb Rifai during his recent visit to Athens, underlining that Greece’s success is not due to the insecurity of tourists to book their holidays in neighboring destinations. “Greece’s growth in tourism is not accidental… Greece has its own identity and through its policies has achieved in attracting tourists and – most importantly – making them loyal tourists, repeat visitors”, she said.
DEAR MS KOUTNTOURA
I REGRET TO SAY THAT THE GROWTH IS ACCIDENTAL AND HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH GOVERNMENT POLICY – HOTEL OWNERS AND OTHER TOURIST ENTERPRISES CONTRIBUTE TO THE GROWTH – HOWEVER, THE RECORD YEARS MENTIONED ABOVE TURN GREECE TO A MASS TOURISM DESTINATION WITH NO QUALITY – WE ARE A BOUTIQUE COUNTRY AND NOT A SUPERMARKET – YOU SHOULD AIM TO DECREASE NOS AND IMPROVE QUALITY BUT IT NEEDS KNOWLEDGE AND EFFORT TO ACHIEVE THIS- ΤΗΑΝΚ ΥΟΘ
Great to hear that visitor numbers are increasing, and the season has been successfully extended… but, a few more facts would show the actual benefit, or not, to support these stats.
The islands still don’t have March and November as part of the season, in fact flights are still extremely limited in those months.
Also, increased visitor numbers doesn’t immediately equate to greater income. In fact so many AI and cut price deals actually may devalue or reduce income from tourism, meanwhile investment is limited.
One cannot rely on the ‘free’ natural resources of the sea, beaches and landscape, investment needs to be made to improve the tourism offering and infrastructure, increase visitor spend and to improve the visitor experience. Then, the stats should ring true, until then there’s much work still to be done.