With all eyes on Greece’s upcoming official opening to tourists, the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) is optimistic that the sector will see a much better year than it did in 2020.
“We will do much better than last year,” GNTO Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis said on Tuesday, adding that his forecast comes from the available data so far.
“Our data at the moment is quite encouraging and we expect bookings and arrivals to gradually increase as the economy opens in the country. Because in the end, what we want is for this recorded demand to translate into bookings and – of course – into new arrivals for the season,” the secretary general said.
Speaking during a joint virtual press conference held with AEGEAN to present a new ad campaign to attract more visitors to Greece, Fragakis stressed that it is “extremely important” for tourism to see an actual restart in 2021 because last year the sector was in business for only about 3 months with revenues adding up to some 4.3 billion euros – 20 percent of the earnings in 20219.
“It will be extremely good if we manage to double that amount this year,” he said.
Fragakis said that a gradual increase in arrivals to Greece from all countries is expected after the official opening on May 15. It is reminded that Greece will open its borders with no quarantine requirement for vaccinated travelers or those with a negative PCR test.
“We have known for a very long time – since February – that Greece is among the countries in demand for leisure travel this year,” he said.
The secretary general said that he is aware that the situation “will not be easy” as the season will be filled with different and changing conditions due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Greece is sufficiently prepared for tourism to open safely on May 15 and welcome its first visitors by applying safety and health protocols and procedures like last year,” he said.
UK market, EU Covid-19 Certificate
When asked about Greece being placed on the “amber list” of UK’s traffic light system, Fragakis expressed concern.
According to the UK’s traffic light system, travelers returning from Greece will need to self-isolate when they return to the UK.
“We expect a reassessment of this decision by the British government by May 28,” he said, adding that although Greece is extremely prepared for the tourism season, many things also depend on the rules of foreign countries.
“We know that we will have some ups and downs in the near future and we are prepared to face them. I just hope that there will only be few,” he said.
Commenting on the upcoming release of the EU Covid-19 Certificate (also known as the Digital Green Certificate), Fragakis said he expects it to be ready to be applied in EU countries by June 15.
He added that Greece is also entering into bilateral agreements with non-EU countries in order to accept third-country vaccination certificates.
Greece’s 2021 tourism promotion is largest in past decade
Referring to promotional actions for Greece, Fragakis said that the GNTO this year is carrying out the largest tourism promotion program for the country in the past decade.
“We have a budget of over 22 million euros to promote Greece abroad in 2021,” he said, explaining that half of the amount will go towards co-advertising actions with tour operators and airlines.
Fragakis underlined that partnerships with airlines and tour operators to promote Greece as a unique travel destination is an integral part of the GNTO’s strategy.
“We invest in partnerships and joint initiatives that we are confident will have a multiplying effect,” he said, while referring to the GNTO’s latest partnership with AEGEAN that involves a new ad campaign that promotes Greece to 10 source markets (the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Poland, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands).
Dubbed “Sunshine Discount”, the campaign focuses on Greece’s warm climate and promises an airfare discount that depends on the difference in temperature between a person’s country-of-origin vs. Greece. More information on the campaign can be found here.