Greece in the 2020 tourism season, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, welcomed more than 750,000 British visitors
Greece has high expectations for its tourism season next year and sees the UK playing a leading role, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said on Monday.
Speaking during a virtual press conference during the WTM Virtual event, Minister Theoharis gave the latest updates on Greek tourism with a recap of 2020 and also referred to new tourism strategies planned for 2021.
“This year is a special one for everyone and especially for Greece that managed to open its tourist season,” the minister said and provided details on how Greece was able to welcome visitors despite the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic by following an organized plan that included health protocols, tourism professionals that followed the rules and Greece’s AI screening and testing program – nicknamed “Eva”.
“Today I feel proud because Greek tourism has succeeded. The reputation and the brand of Greek tourism remain strong. Nothing was easy but we proved that nothing is impossible and we move on to the day after,” Theoharis said.
Aim for Greece to welcome visitors all year round
Expressing his hope that next year, with the help of science, the painful adventure of the coronavirus pandemic will be left behind, the minister focused on the goal which will be to extend the country’s tourism season.
“From this year on – and under these special circumstances – we have already taken steps towards one of our strategic goals which is the extension of the tourist season… For us, the UK has a leading role to play in this,” he said.
More than 750,000 British visitors showed trust in Greece as a safe destination and spent their holiday in the country during the 2020 tourism season, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is something the tourism ministry is hoping to build on.
“The islands of the Ionian, the Dodecanese and Crete this year welcomed British tourists who enjoyed the beauties of Greece and returned back home happy and – of course – safe,” Theoharis said.
According to the minister, the tourism ministry is currently working with local communities and tourism professionals for Greece to achieve by 2022 an annual season with direct international arrivals.
“The UK tourism market will play a leading role in consolidating the goal of an all year round season,” the minister said, announcing that Greece is planning a series of workshops to promote Greece to which UK market professionals will be invited to participate.
The minister also announced plans to promote Greek destinations, relatively unknown to the UK market, by cooperating with tour operators and travel agents.
“We believe that the British market can support new destinations in other Greek regions such as Western Epirus, with the airport of Aktio, the Peloponnese and the North Aegean,” he said.
Moreover, the minister announced that Greece as a destination will be promoted through an annual advertising campaign to enhance brand awareness and sales dynamic for industry professionals.
Enhancing maritime tourism and collaborations with tour operators and airlines, planned to run throughout the year, are also part of the ministry’s strategy for next season.
“Especially in 2021, a year we consider as the start of the tourism recovery, cooperations with airlines will be expanded so that they are supported in a dynamic manner along with the tour operators,” Minister Theoharis said.
Thematic and alternative forms of tourism are also on the ministry’s agenda. “Greek gastronomy, diving tourism, health and wellness tourism, mountain and climbing tourism, are forms of tourism with significant prospects,” he said.
2021: An important year for Greece
Moreover, Minister Theoharis said that 2021 is an important year for Greece for an additional reason: it coincides with the celebration of 200 years since the rebirth of the modern Greek state.
Greece next year will hold a series of events dedicated to the 200th anniversary since the Greek War of Independence.
“And that is why it is twice as important for everyone to visit Greece next year: to celebrate with us the freedom and the right of all peoples to self determination… In 1821 Greeks became, once again in history, a global example of passion for freedom and democracy… 2021 is a milestone for the Greeks and through a series of activities we will reintroduce ourselves to the world community,” he said.