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Published on : Monday, August 5, 2013
Concluding a tough year of 2012 as far as tourism was concerned, the year 2013 is all set to usher new hopes for the tourism industry in Greece. The International inbound tourism in Greece was subsequently low amid economic and political uncertainty in the country.
As foreign visitors are returning in throngs lured by the unspoiled beaches and archeological brilliance, Greece is expected to draw an all-time high number of at least 17 million tourists this year, up one million from 2012. Hopes that the tourism industry, one of the significant pillars of the ailing economy, will help lift it out of recession.
Tourism industry in Greece is the country’s second industry after shipping, Greek tourism contributed 16.4 percent to the country’s GDP in 2012, according to the latest official figures, generating about 10 billion Euros (13.3 billion U.S dollars) in direct revenue. Direct revenue in 2013 is expected to increase by 10 percent to over 11 billion Euros.
Determined to win the battle, Greece has undertaken a massive and well-coordinated strategy in order to spur growth of tourism industry, looking ahead with optimism and showing the way to other countries.
On July 31 the Greek parliament approved a new tourism ministry-sponsored draft law which included clauses aimed at boosting tourism industry entrepreneurship in the context of this strategy.
The tourism industry is bouncing back and the Greek state in collaboration with the private sector is seizing the opportunities arising in one of the most promising sectors for Greece’s economy.
Total employment in the tourism industry with 688,800 jobs corresponds to 18.3 percent of the workforce in the recession-hit country where unemployment has hit 27 percent.
In 2012 Greece was 17th in international arrivals and 23rd in terms of revenues, according to the World Tourism Organization (WTO). According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2013, Greece holds the 32nd position among 140 countries in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index.
Apart from the rich cultural resources (ranked 25th) the country has an excellent tourism infrastructure (3rd), while the Mediterranean climate is ideal for year-round tourism and one of its core priorities today is to create a sustainable, four-season tourism infrastructure that responds to the needs of the 21st century, according to Invest in Greece Agency, the official investment promotion agency that promotes and facilitates private investment in tourism among other sectors.
Should the upward momentum of international arrivals is maintained in coming years, in 2021 the Greek tourism industry is projected to generate revenues of some 19 billion Euros on an annual basis and create about 350,000 new jobs, according to SETE.
The tourism ministry in collaboration with SETE and other key stakeholders in the sector, such as the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), responsible for the official promotion of the Greek travel industry for decades, are currently formulating a strategic map towards 2021 with a vision to place Greece among the top 10 world tourism destinations.
One of the latest initiatives in this context for example is the launch of the private non-profit organization “Marketing Greece” this year with the objective to contribute to the planning and implementation of targeted actions appealing to international visitors.
The country has been introducing new services to respond to the demand for conference tourism, sports tourism, medical tourism and history and religious tourism, as well as integrated resorts, which include tourist residencies, among others.
Competitive prices of services and a positive country image are also key factors attracting visitors.
Greece today participates in the main tourism trade shows, is promoted by major travel and tour operators worldwide, and has an organized Internet campaign through an official site (www.visitgreece.gr) informing potential visitors of hidden corners to discover, Invest in Greece Agency highlighted.
The promotion of an ambitious privatization project for the development of the Greek public sector’s private properties, aiming to generate proceeds of 25 billion Euros in coming years, is also expected to help towards achieving goals set.
With regard to the path towards the further development of tourism in China and enhancement of people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, Invest in Greece Agency underlined that “China has the potential of developing a world class tourism industry and attracting visitors from all over the globe, seeking new experiences in an emerging, yet classic destination.”
Greece has much to offer to foreign visitors, including Greeks who have traditionally admired Chinese civilization and in recent years have shown increasing interest to visit China and get acquainted with its culture and peoples, he stressed.
The exchange of experience in tourism development among the countries and enhanced collaboration will benefit all sides is the key motto in Greece.