The South Aegean Region is a key player in Greek tourism growth, achieving increases in tourist arrivals, tourism-related revenue and overnight stays, said Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura during the 13th Regional Conference on the Reconstruction of Production in the South Aegean held on the island of Rhodes, this week.
Addressing the conference, Kountoura underlined region’s significant contribution to the constantly improving performance of Greek tourism, adding that the ministry’s “multi-level island policy aims to stimulate local economies, strengthen entrepreneurship and professional activity in local communities, create new jobs and bring growth”.
The minister made special reference to the region’s tourism performance, which marked a 12 percent rise in the number of arrivals (5.8 million visitors from key source markets) and a 16 percent increase in overnight stays, which in turn boosted tourist revenue in 2017.
Kountoura attributed the success to the extension of the tourist season and added that in the past three years the number of international arrivals to Rhodes increased by 12 percent between March and May, and by 26 percent from September to November. She noted that this was made possible thanks to her close cooperation with Regional Governor George Hatzimarkos and Deputy Regional Governor for Tourism Marietta Papavasiliou, and added that she expects the momentum to continue into 2018 with double-digit growth, particularly in view of more than 1.3 million international seats booked for the South Aegean.
Of utmost importance in the ministry’s efforts to boost arrivals, enhance the tourist product and meet growing demands are investments, which the ministry is backing and include the addition of 7,700 new beds over the last three years through the creation of new hotels and the upgrade of existing 4- and 5-star units on Rhodes and Kos.
Kountoura said the ministry is currently examining 73 applications for tourism investment licensing in the Dodecanese and five in the Cyclades. At the same time, 66 hotel ventures have submitted proposals to participate in the first round of funding under the development law with access to more than 288 million euros, while 234 requests are seeking subsidies for the upgrade of existing small and medium-sized enterprises.
Kountoura went on to stress the importance of professional training in tourism, noting that the ministry was currently looking into ways to upgrade the curriculum and accreditation offered at the Rhodes and Kos schools of Higher Education in Tourism.