Elena Kountoura

MINISTER OF TOURISM

Greece 2019  I  Tourism  I  Leader

BIOGRAPHY she is a graduate of the University of Athens, Faculty of Science for Physical Education and Sports. Engaged to sports from the age of 12, She was distinguished as a top athlete, member of the Greek National Track and Field Team. Champion of Greece for consecutive years with several national records, as national and international titles and awards.

“WE HAD THE BEST YEAR IN THE HISTORY OF GREEK TOURISM IN 2018 WITH INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS REACHING 33 MILLION PEOPLE, A NUMBER TRIPLE OUR COUNTRY’S POPULATION.”

GREECE IS THE LARGEST AND MOST DIVERSE COMPLEX OF ISLANDS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN. WHAT HAVE BEEN THE MAIN RESULTS FROM THE STRATEGY OF REDUCING THE SEASONALITY OF THE TOURISM PRODUCT?

 

Greece is the largest and most diverse complex of Islands in the Mediterranean. It has one of the longest coastlines in the world with about 16.000 km of safe crystal clear blue waters, majestic mainland and a mild and pleasant climate that makes trips ideal throughout the year. The exquisite landscape, rich history and culture are the timeless elements which we maintain with the utmost respect in terms of sustainable tourism, and which we enhance as we develop new tourism products of special interest and new Greek destinations. 

 

Our aim is for Greece, by 2020, to be established as a leading, attractive and safe destination that offers authentic thematic tourism experiences 365 days a year. We are aiming for balanced and fair growth that will bring steady benefits to our national economy. We have enriched our offer by introducing new Greek destinations and authentic experiences, with a high-quality tourist product, making Greece stand out in the Mediterranean and Europe. At the same time, we have dynamically promoted through global campaigns our religious treasures, health and wellness, luxury vacation, winter tourism, outdoor activities in our rich nature, gastronomy and wine tourism as well as our wide offering for cruises, yachting and diving. 

 

Also, we promote ideal Greek destinations for weddings and honeymoons and we are pleased that UK travelers, for example, have chosen Greece as their most-wanted destination for a family vacation. Short-breaks are becoming increasingly popular in Thessaloniki and recently we received for Athens the World Travel Awards for top European city-break destination. We also focus on further expanding air connectivity to satisfy increasing demand over the next years.

For the first time, Greece has a unified national and regional tourism policy, where each Greek region can develop its tourism in a sustainable way and for benefits to be contributed to the local economies. Greece supports the implementation of the UNWTO’s vision for global tourism development by 2030 and the priorities of the organization for the next two years regarding innovation and digital transition, investment and entrepreneurship, education and employment, security and the unhindered development of tourism and travel, as well as policies on social, cultural and environmental sustainability.

 

 

“OUR FORECAST IS VERY PROMISING FOR 2019 AS OUR RESEARCH INDICATES THAT GREECE IS AT THE TOP OF DEMAND FROM SOURCE MARKETS.”

 

 

GREECE IS EXPECTING 2019 TO BE ITS BEST YEAR FOR THE TOURISM SECTOR. WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS?

 

The Greek Travel & Tourism sector in 2018 grew at a rate of 6.9 percent – over three and a half times the pace of its wider national economy. Greece’s tourism sector represents 20.6 percent of our GDP compared to the global average of 10.4 percent, meaning that one in every five euros spent in Greece last year came from the Travel & Tourism sector. We had the best year in the history of Greek tourism in 2018 with international arrivals reaching 33 million people, a number triple our country’s population. Tourism-related revenue increased by an additional €2 billion compared to 2017, driven by increased transport activity, shopping and domestic tourism, while travel receipt estimates for 2018 are set to exceed €21 billion.

 

Our forecast is very promising for 2019 as our research indicates that Greece is at the top of demand from source markets while will be also aiming to reach out to new markets including India, China, Korea, and the Arab countries. We are already successful in some of these initiatives such as with China, that has increased by 70 percent in the number of Chinese nationals visiting Greece over the last three years. Our strategic goal is to strengthen our international position in the global tourism market, regardless of geopolitical or other situations, and to create long-term benefits by investing in the high-quality and competitive tourism offerings of our homeland. In this effort, we want the support of all regional authorities, productive forces and of the private sector. We will also continue our efforts to attract high-income visitors as part of our positioning strategy. 

 

We are also exploring new avenues such as the rising interest of film producers for Greece. Our Government has established a new legislative framework, offering incentives for filming in Greece. This will allow us to promote the country as an attractive filming destination and the film industry could become a source of significant revenues and multiple benefits for local communities.

 

WHAT ARE THE MAIN EFFORTS BEING DONE TO INCREASE THE NUMBER OF FLIGHTS AND CRUISES IN GREECE?

 

Between 2015-17, we increased inbound tourism by 25 percent, with historical records in international arrivals and revenue. For 2018, we recorded a 15 percent increase in arrivals and 17 percent in revenues for the first seven months, which is the highest performance in all travel and tourism figures.

 

The cruise sector is another top priority for Greece. We receive about three million cruise passengers yearly, and Greece is one of the leading European cruise destinations. We work closely with the global and European cruise lines to introduce new attractive destinations and our country offers over 20 major cruise ports with Piraeus and Heraklion in Crete acting as our two main home ports. We expect to be able to offer six to seven new home ports in the upcoming years.