Greece is set to exceed 30 million international visitors this year, breaking all-time records. This number is an increase of 7 percent year-on-year and Greece’s growth has for second year in a row, doubled the global travel industry average of 3.9 percent.
Athens and Heraklion on Crete island are the “standout performers in 2017”, according to research released on Tuesday during the World Travel Market (WTM) London.
According to the Top 100 City Destination Ranking WTM London Edition, by Euromonitor International, the Cretan city of Heraklion is forecast to be the strongest performing city in Europe in 2017, closely followed in second place by the Greek capital city, Athens.
Heraklion will see visitor arrivals rise by more than 11 percent this year, to more than three million, while Athens will see arrivals increase by 10 percent, to almost 10 million. Also in Greece, Rhodes is forecast to see arrivals rise by almost 8 percent to 2.3 million.
According to the report, tourism to Greece has performed strongly this year, thanks to a shift away from less stable destinations.
“A familiar picture is forming, where the substitution effect means that cities in relatively quiet and stable countries are profiting from unrest in other countries… Spain, Greece and Italy are performing strongly, as they offer a similar climate to affected countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia,” the report says.
The World Travel & Tourism Council estimates that tourism in 2017 will help boost the Greek economy by 6.9 percent – supporting nearly one million jobs and representing 20 percent of the country’s GDP.
International arrivals to Greece, including cruise ship arrivals, are estimated to exceed 30 million by the end of the year, compared to 28 million respectively in 2016, reflecting an increase of some nine percent, said Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura.
“Our strategic goal is to promote Greece with its unique brand-name and its long standing tradition as a global attractive 365-day destination,” Kountoura told the foreign press at WTM London.
Kountoura also announced that the Ministry is currently implementing a national tourism policy, on a long-term plan of five strategic pillars comprising of extending the official summer season, opening of new foreign markets, promoting new Greek destinations, developing thematic tourism products and travel experiences, attracting new investment of high added value.