More than 152 tourism investments are already taking shape while 32 are in the pre-approval stage in the Central Macedonia Region, where local authorities have implemented a tourism development strategy that aims to support innovation and entrepreneurship for the further development of the industry.
Addressing a press conference this week, Central Macedonia Regional Governor Apostolos Tzitzikostas underlined the importance of small- and medium-sized enterprises in tourism, and said the region was initially supporting such investments with 24 million euros in funding.
In the meantime, he said, the region has already launched two major entrepreneurship competitions for tourism, services, trade and manufacturing, budgeted at 130 million euros, 64 million euros of which will be the funded by the region.
Referring to the region’s tourism performance for 2018, Tzitzikostas said that of the total tourist arrivals to Greece, 27 percent visited Central Macedonia destinations, adding that over the last five years, the number of arrivals exceeded 7.2 million. At the same time, tourism created 3,000 new jobs, while hotel capacity grew to 90,500 beds.
Tzitzikostas went on to add that the number of arrivals at Makedonia Airport exceeded 3 million, 950,000 traveled through the region’s ports, and the number of visits to museums and archaeological sites went from 600,000 in 2013 to over 1 million in 2018, up by 70 percent.
Citing Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) data, Tzitzikostas said prospects for the future are bright. According to SETE estimates for the next five years, the Central Macedonia Region is set to see a 21 percent increase in the number of arrivals, a 15 percent rise in tourism-related revenue, stronger road tourism flows, higher demand for city break and yachting tourism, and a transition by 2021 to cultural tourism from sea & sun holidays.
“The region’s tourism policy focusing on diversification and specialization as well as linking tourism with culture and agri-food products has been proven to work, producing real results for our country, the economy, society, entrepreneurship and investment,” said Tzitzikostas.
He went on to note that as of March 7, the regional authority together with local chambers will organize information events in the seven prefectures of the region on funding options for entrepreneurship, innovation and research.