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Rhodes (photo: Visit Greece)

Greek tourism “an exemplary case study”

The travel and tourism sector is growing almost four times faster than the wider economy and is now worth 20% of GDP.

Greece’s travel and tourism sector grew at a rate of 6.9% in 2018, almost four times the pace of the national economy overall which grew by 2%, new research by the World Travel & Tourism Council says.

The sector now represents as much as 20.6% of GDP compared to the global average of 10.4%.

This means that one in every five euros spent in Greece last year came from travel and tourism, worth €37.5 billion.

Meanwhile, a quarter of all employment in Greece depends on travel and tourism, equivalent to almost a million jobs. This figure is forecast to pass one million in 2019, for the first time since these WTTC records began 30 years ago.

Even at the height of economic performance before the financial crisis, Greece employed less people in tourism than it did in 2018 (934,500 in 2006), showing that not only has the sector recovered, it is now outperforming its previous peaks.

The same is true for GDP contribution, which has never before amounted to 20% of total GDP.

Visitor spend
Greece’s growth also outpaced that of the European Union’s overall travel and tourism sector of 2.4%.

Greece saw €18.5 billion international visitor spend in 2018, representing 27.9% of total exports. This was of course driven by leisure spending, which comprised 94% of tourist spending, compared to 6% for business.

“We are hugely impressed by the Greek growth rate, and the government strategies that have spurred it on,” Gloria Guevara, the WTTC’s president and chief executive, remarked.

“Travel and tourism has had a huge role to play in driving the Greek economic recovery and is a chief employer of people. Greece is an exemplary case study of how valuable an asset travel and tourism can be when the government prioritises the sector.”

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