The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) recently announced that it expects a record-breaking 30 million international visitors to Greece this year. This represents a growth rate of 7 percent, or an additional 2 million additional visitors over the previous year. According to the GNTO’s New York branch, 900,000 American travelers are expected to visit Greece this year.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) estimates that tourism in 2017 will help boost the Greek economy by 6.9 percent, and will boost employment by 6.3 percent, supporting nearly 1 million jobs and representing 20 percent of the country’s GDP.
According to data, one in five jobs created in Greece is related to the tourism sector. “Tourism is essential to Greece’s effort for recovery and prosperity. Every 30 or more tourists visiting Greece, creates one new job for a Greek,” the GNTO said in an announcement.
“We are very optimistic about the upcoming tourist season and our continued momentum,” says Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura. “Greece’s incomparable natural beauty, ancient history, vibrant urban culture and spirit of ‘philotimo’* make it one of the world’s most unique and desired year-round destinations.”
Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary General, shared his full support of Greece and GNTO while visiting Athens earlier this year. “Greece is one of the most popular and attractive global destinations, which enhances its international appeal and continues to record high performance,” said Rifai.
Greece: The must-go experience destination
The GNTO notes that Greece has always been known as a classic destination, but recently has been distinguished as the new, must-go experience destination for 2017. Recognition includes Athens as one of the New York Times “52 Places to Go in 2017” and Santorini was named the #1 Island Overall in Travel + Leisure’s annual “World’s Best Awards.” Also, Zakynthos Island’s Navagio Beach was named #1 in Town & Country magazine’s “10 Hidden Beaches Around the World You Need to Know About” and Crete was named #1 Best Affordable European Honeymoon Destination by U.S. News & World Report.
New flights and connections will make traveling to Greece easier in 2017, including daily year-round service by Emirates to Athens from Newark Liberty International Airport. Destinations such as Kos, Rhodes, Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu, Kephalonia, Zakynthos, Aktio and Thessaloniki now have direct flights or connections to a larger number of European cities, as well as the U.S., China, India, Russia and Israel.
The GNTO’s development strategy includes increasing access via air, land and sea; increased focus on audience segmentation including: luxury, religious, cruises, yachting, diving, cultural tourism, adventure, LGBT and new international markets; and the use of new technology platforms and social media.
* A distinctive and unique characteristic of Greece, “philotimo” represents a sacred honor, promise and the spirit of its people. The word, which has no real translation, conveys tolerance, open arms, and open-mindedness to all visitors, and transcends religion, race, color or creed. It invites travelers to experience Greece as family members and guests.