As part of ongoing efforts to diversify the tourism product on offer, the Greek Tourism Ministry is working with the Church of Greece to develop religious tourism options.
In this direction, Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias has agreed with Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos II and the Church of Greece to create tourism programs aimed at “illuminating the Byzantine Orthodox churches of Athens and northern Greece, starting with Mount Athos and its monasteries”.
Speaking to the Greek media on Saturday, Kikilias said the ministry is enhancing religious tourism “on the islands and in the remote areas of Greece with the beautiful chapels”, where religion is connected through the centuries with culture and history, so as to attract more travelers during the low season.
He went on to announce that the ministry was close to inking a deal with a cruise company for a religious cruise from Piraeus to the Holy Land in Jerusalem.
“Travelers will first come to Athens, travel to the Aegean islands, go to Cyprus and complete their trip in Israel and in the Holy Land of Jerusalem. So we are planning a religious cruise for the winter,” said Kikilias.
The minister said the aim through the expansion of cruise travel was to extend the tourism season. To achieve this, Kikilias said infrastructure works to be funded by the RRF were proceeding at a fast pace, including works on a new port that will be able to cater to large cruise ships for the island of Patmos, a significant Christian pilgrimage destination.
Kikilias said the island is expecting 285 cruise ship arrivals this year up from 157 in 2019.
Referring to the effectiveness of ministry actions to promote Greece as a year-round destination, Kikilias said international arrivals in May increased by 3.2 percent compared to the same month in pre-pandemic 2019.