By Nikos Krinis
International arrivals to Greece, including cruise ship arrivals, are estimated to exceed 30 million by the end of the year, compared to 28 million respectively in 2016, reflecting an increase of some nine percent, Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura said on the opening day of the World Travel Market (WTM) 2017 in London on Monday, November 6.
“2017 is a spectacular year,” Minister Kountoura told a packed press conference, while giving an update on the tourism developments in Greece.
“We are very pleased to see a continuous growth from the UK, one of our two main traditional markets, and in 2017 arrivals continued to grow strongly,” she said.
According to data provided by the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), the UK remained in the first position in terms of international passenger arrivals at Greek airports during the first nine months in 2017, with an increase of 5.4 percent compared to the same period last year and approximately 2.79 million passengers. The Ministry estimates that by the end of the year, the number will surpass three million.
Meanwhile, up until October 2017, bookings by UK travelers for holiday packages in 2018 demonstrate an increase of 19 percent.
Positive outlook for 2018
“From our meetings and negotiations with tour operators and airlines, pre-bookings have started with double-digit growth, tourism packages are increasing to popular but also new Greek destinations and new flights are being added and new routes launched,” she said.
Greece, a 365–day destination
“Our strategic goal is to promote Greece with its unique brand-name and its long standing tradition as a global attractive 365-day destination,” Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura told the foreign press at WTM London.
She informed that the ministry is currently implementing a national tourism policy, on a long-term plan of five strategic pillars comprising of extending the official summer season, opening of new foreign markets, promoting new Greek destinations, developing thematic tourism products and travel experiences, attracting new investment of high added value.
“The ministry now promotes all the authentic, one-of-a-kind travel experiences that Greece can offer year-round and at the same time we shape our future for sustainable tourism growth for all, in all coming years,” she said.
Underlining that the ministry’s priority is to support sustainable tourism development, Kountoura presented plans to link the Greek tourism sector with the primary production, the agrifood sector, and manufacturing, “that gives new opportunities for growth to all areas and businesses across Greece, while adding value to our tourism product”.
Moreover, the minister mentioned the great increase from abroad — by leading international hospitality and travel groups — to invest in the growing Greek tourism sector.
The Greek Travel Pages (GTP) is an official media partner of WTM London 2017.