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Holiday Season Fueling Occupancy at Greek Winter Destinations, Says Minister

Arachove. Photo: GTP/Maria Theofanopoulou

Arachove. Photo: GTP/Maria Theofanopoulou

Traditional winter destinations in Greece are winning over domestic travelers this holiday season, according to Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias.

In a recent interview to Greek newspaper Proto Thema, the minister said that hotels in winter destinations popular among Greeks were recording occupancy levels over 75-80 percent for the December holiday period.

Referring to the ministry’s goal to attract tourists all year round, Kikilias focused on the effort being made to highlight destinations that are lesser known in foreign markets.

“For the first time in our country, we are proceeding with the creation of a distinct campaign for winter tourism to make it clear that Greece is developing tourism in all its regions,” the minister said.

Makrinitsa village. Photo © Heracles Kritikos / Shutterstock

According to Kikilias, a number of mainland destinations can be part of Greece’s upcoming “story telling” campaign to attract more tourists from abroad during the winter months. He specifically referred to the areas of Kavala, the Nestos Delta, the Dadia Forest, Lake Kerkini and the hiking routes of Rodopi, in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace; to Vasilitsa, Kastoria and Nymfaio, in Western Macedonia; to Agios Athanasios and Kaimaktsalan, in Central Macedonia; to Pelion, Meteora, Elati, Pertouli, Lake Plastira and Trikala in Thessaly; to Karpenisi, Arachova, Delphi, Pavliani and Edipsos in Central Greece; to Arcadia, Trikala and Nafplio, in the Peloponnese; to Kalavryta and Nafpaktos in Western Greece; and to Zagori, Metsovo, Tzoumerka, Konitsa and Mastorochoria, in Epirus.

“All these areas of incomparable beauty can be the new narrative of the country for winter tourism to markets abroad,” he said.

Nestos river. Photo source: Region of Eastern Macedonia-Thrace

Moreover, Kikilias mentioned that the ministry is also preparing a campaign that will focus on promoting Greek destinations for city break tourism, in an aim to support Greece’s all year round hotels, which were hit harder by the effects of the pandemic compared to seasonal hotels.

Greek tourism in 2021 exceeded initial expectations

Referring to Greek tourism’s performance this year, Kikilias highlighted that 2021 exceeded the initial expectations of both the government and the market.

“The target of reaching 50 percent of 2019 levels was exceeded and while revenues of 5-6 billion euros were expected, we will be seeing more than 10 billion euros this year,” he said, underlining that Greece’s “clear message” of safety and the observance of health protocols, paid off.

The minister added that 2022 at the moment is showing signs that it will be a better tourism year than 2021.

During the interview, Kikilias also announced that a new bill, which among other things also foresees the establishment of Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) in Greece, will soon be submitted to Parliament for a vote.

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