Infrastructure investments to keep visitor numbers high in future
An all-time record 30 million international arrivals are visiting Greece this year, making it a milestone year for tourism in the country, the tourism minister Elena Kountoura tells TTG Media.
For the fourth year in a row, Greece has seen growth of more than 7% per year, rising from 26 million in 2015 to 28 million in 2016. This year’s growth has also brought a “significant increase” in revenues, the minister said.
The country has seen double-digit growth in arrivals from “almost every European country” in 2017, including the Scandinavian countries, Germany and France, Kountoura said, while numbers have also “increased significantly from dynamic markets such as the US, Canada, Russia, the Middle East and China”. The UK market for Greece in air arrivals grew 6% in the first eight months of 2017.
This year also saw the introduction of more than 150 new flight routes. Kountoura said so far for 2018 “several new routes” had been added from European destinations. “Some routes that were originally scheduled to end in October have expanded until January,” she said.
But fewer cruise calls
The cruise industry continues to be important for Greece, with cruise passengers exceeding three million in 2016. But issues in the eastern Mediterranean such as the drop in demand for nearby Turkey have led to a reduction in cruise calls this year, Kountoura acknowledged, but said added that she was hopeful that numbers would be strong for 2017.
“The recent developments in neighbouring countries led international cruise lines to reconsider their programmes in the Mediterranean for 2017. Despite fewer port calls overall, cruise ships had higher occupancy for Greek destinations and an increased number of passengers compared to 2016. As a result, the outcome for the cruise industry in Greece this year will turn out better than the initial estimates.”
Kountoura is optimistic that the growth in visitor numbers will continue overall. “In the last two years, our ministry received 265 proposals concerning projects for four and five-star hotels, as well as for new integrated tourism resorts that are in various stages of licensing,” she said.
“Major tour operators expanded their portfolio in Greece and have announced their plans for several new hotel projects in the coming years. Major funds and investment groups from the US, Middle East, Russia and China are investing in luxury resorts and several strategic investments are under way in popular and new Greek destinations.”
A number of large infrastructure projects continue, including the upgrade of 14 regional airports and a strategic investment at the port of Piraeus as a major hub for homeporting.