UNWTO praises Greece on strong tourism results

UN body says 2014 will come to “an exceptional close”

Meeting with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras during an official visit to Greece, UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai commended the “excellent results” of Greece’s tourism sector, indicating that 2014 will come to “an exceptional close”.

The number of international tourists visiting Greece in the first half of 2014 grew by 17%, driven by the strong demand from key European outbound markets. Such results are well above the growth registered in Southern European destinations (+7%), the United Nations World Tourism Organisation says.

The trend consolidates a positive performance also in 2013 and confirms the importance of the tourism sector as a stronghold of Greece’s economy. In 2013, international tourists in Greece reached 18 million (+16%) generating US$16 billion (+13%).

According to the UNWTO, the strength of the tourism sector in Greece is “the result of a robust tourism policy, of the implementation of fundamental competitiveness measures and of the immense capacity of the private sector to adjust to a fast changing market.”

Prime Minister Samaras has said that the country’s tourism sector is “the first locomotive that started and began to pull our economy out of a painful six-year recession.”

During the meeting, Rifai commended Samaras on taking key steps to support the sector, including simplifying visa procedures to encourage travel to Greece, reducing VAT on hotels and tourism services and supporting the cruise industry.

Travel Daily News

[pictured: South coast, Crete]

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