All set for a record-breaking year with visitor arrivals reaching 30m

Greek destinations Heraklion and Athens are “standout performers in 2017”, according to recent research for World Travel Market London.


The Greek National Tourism Organisation expected a record- breaking 30 million international visitors to Greece for 2017 – up 7% year-on-year – as the destination has invested in its tourism industry and improved its image overseas.

Greece’s tourism policies have helped to extend the travel season, promote different thematic products, open new markets and boost connectivity by air, land and sea. For the last two years, Greece’s growth has been nearly twice the global industry average of 3.9%. The World Travel & Tourism Council estimates that tourism in 2017 will help boost the Greek economy by 6.9% – supporting nearly one million jobs and representing 20% of the country’s GDP.

Greece’s Minister for Tourism, Elena Kountoura, told Cleverdis that tourism truly unites people: “It’s all about open borders, freedom and democracy, and the right of everyone to be able to travel. At the same time, the megatrend is for people, when traveling, to seek authentic experiences. In the past, there were a lot of all-inclusive packages, but in the last two years we have been developing, with our regional offices, a lot of thematic products so we can give a broad number of different opportunities and choices to our visitors. In Greece, we attempt to promote a balance with sustainable tourism in such a way to enable tourists to truly bene t from what the regions have to offer. Our historical and cultural product range is huge. It’s not only the Acropolis, the museums, Poseidon or Delphe or Meteora, it’s something bigger. It’s the root of western civilization, and in that sense, everyone has a dream to visit the country that spawned democracy, philosophy, and the Olympic Games. But in order to promote the entire Greek territory, we have developed thematic travel – for example religious tourism, with all the monuments that can be found here, or the holy mountain. We have the Greek gastronomy, there is a big interest in MICE tourism, and we have beautiful weather, so people can enjoy the outdoors while here for business. Then there’s nautical tourism, for which we are very famous, but also, we are promoting winter sports, cycling tours, rock-climbing, and wellness and medical tourism thanks to our over 700 thermal centres.”

What is the minister’s goal for the future of tourism in Greece? “For 2020, we aim to have more than 35-million tourists and more than 20% extra capacity, and for tourism to account for 22% of GDP (+2%)”.

Photo: Elena Kountoura, Greece’s Minister for Tourism.