Greek tourism has entered a new era, breaking all records in 2018 and paving the way for an even stronger dynamic in 2019, Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura said, adding that she expects Greek cruise tourism to achieve record results in the year ahead in terms of passenger numbers, overnight stays and ship calls.
In an interview to the Athens News Agency (ANA), Kountoura underlined the importance of expanding tourist development to lesser-known destinations through relevant infrastructure, thus distributing the benefits to other communities across Greece.
The minister went on to note that 2018 was a landmark year for Greece as tourism broke new records achieving at the same time to extend the season.
Kountoura said she was expecting the investment dynamic in the tourism sector to continue into the new year.
According to the minister:
– 2018 was the best year in the history of Greek tourism with international arrivals reaching 33 million people,
– tourism-related revenue increased by an additional 2 billion euros compared to 2017, driven by increased transport activity, shopping and domestic tourism, while travel receipt estimates for 2018 are set to exceed 21 billion euros,
–international tourism flows remained high throughout the year, up by 19.1 percent in the first half of 2018, and for the first time, the number of visitors in the January-March 2018 period exceeded 1.8 million, while the “off season” months of October and November marked a 15.6 percent and 17.1 percent increase, respectively.
Kountoura concluded on a positive note, adding that indications from source markets are positive for 2019 with Greece at the top of demand while the ministry, she said, is now aiming to reach out to new markets including India, China, Korea, and the Arab countries.
The minister stressed that contrary to reports that Greece was benefitting from the instability in the region, Greek tourism remained strong despite the comeback last year of rival destinations.
“It must be made clear,” Kountoura told ANA, “that we are not targeting the same traveling market with our neighbors, nor are we seeking to get a share of holidaymakers seeking cheaper destinations. Instead, we are focusing on high-income visitors.”
The minister added that the “strategic goal now is to strengthen our international position in the global tourism market, regardless of geopolitical or other situations, and to create long-term benefits by investing in the high quality and competitive tourism offerings of our homeland. In this effort, we want the support of all regional authorities, productive forces and of the private sector”.