Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura on Monday said that 2018 has turned out as the best year for Greece’s tourism as it comes after four years of continuous and steady tourism growth, with historical records.
“This was a performance beyond everyone’s expectations,” Minister Kountoura said while speaking during a press conference focused on the tourism developments in Greece, held on the opening day of the World Travel Market (WTM) 2018 in London.
The minister said Greece’s tourism industry had “performed a small miracle” for the Greek economy, which has grown 2.1 percent this year and is expected to grow a further 2.5 percent in 2019, its highest rate of growth for 10 years.
“In this new era that has began for Greece and the Greek economy, with everything we have achieved in tourism, our goal is to maintain this strong momentum and grow even more,” she said.
Greece’s new growth plan
During the press conference, Minister Kountoura presented Greece’s new growth plan for the “next day in tourism”, so the country can respond to increasing demand.
According to the minister, the new plan aims to enrich Greece’s offering in high-quality infrastructure and services and make the country’s tourism product even more competitive in the global travel market.
Greece’s new tourism growth plan includes the launch of special programs to increase capacity and upgrade the quality of 4- and 5-star hotels and also attract new investments in health and wellness, golf, MICE, sports and recreation, thematic parks.
Also, considering that Greece is one of the top three European cruise destinations, another target of the ministry is to develop more than six new home-ports for cruises, as well as a network of large and medium-size marinas. “We cooperate with major international and European cruise lines, to introduce new destinations and thematic products combining cruises with land-based travel experiences,” Minister Kountoura said.
She underlined that the ministry is negotiating to increase the offering of travel packages throughout the year and launch new direct flights from more foreign airports to more Greek destinations, as “connectivity is the key for tourism-growth”.
In addition, the ministry is aiming to to introduce new dynamic packages focused on travel to large and popular islands combined with smaller islands.
“Greece is the most diverse complex of islands in Europe and the Med, with more than 100 destinations and unlimited choices for tailor-made experiences that we now promote,” Minister Kountoura said.
The ministry’s plans also include specific programs for “open businesses 365 days a year” in Greek destinations ready to support them throughout the year, as well as programs for specialized training for the sector’s workforce in thematic products and services.
Moreover, Minister Kountoura touched on the subject of tourism education. “We are modernizing our public tourism education system to continuously upgrade the quality of services and meet the high demand for specialized jobs in the growing hospitality industry,” she said.
UK market: A top priority
Referring to the UK market as “a top priority” for Greece, the minister said that already bookings were up some 10 percent this year compared to 2017.
“In the nine months of 2018, air arrivals from the UK to Athens and all Greek airports were up by almost 9 percent and exceeded 3.2 million,” she said, adding that she expects the strong dynamic from the UK to continue for 2019.
“We are here to meet with travel professionals for the new opportunities for 2019 and beyond,” Minister Kountoura said.