WTM London confirms Greece’s “golden year” in tourism and highlights challenges

WTM London confirms Greece’s “golden year” in tourism and highlights challenges
Greece’s participation with 70 co-exhibitors in this year’s World Travel Market (WTM) in London is one of the main poles of attraction for international tourism professionals attending for yet another year.

As the Minister for Tourism Elena Kountoura confirmed, the number of arrivals will have exceeded 32 million by the end of the year, making 2018 another record-breaking year.

Even though observers have noted that this level of arrivals should have probably been translated into even more money pouring in, Mrs Kountoura said that revenue would reach 16.2m euros, in a significant double-digit year on year increase.

“We have exceeded every expectation. We are rightfully talking about a golden year for Greek tourism, a year that will be for ever remembered,” commented the Minister.

The 32m plus of arrivals include cruise visitors. Cruise and yachting are some of the sectors where the emphasis of the national tourism strategy will turn in the coming years, said Mrs Kountoura.

She added in the increase in capacity in 4 and 5-star hotels and resorts, the expansion of internal flight connectivity, the opening up of new markets such as the Chinese and the Indian ones, the modernisation of state tourism education and the “digital transformation and innovation” of Greek tourism.

Greek tourism professionals have at the same time, however, pointed to several challenges facing the country over the coming years. First is the recovery of traditionally competitive destinations such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia, with a product which is much cheaper than what Greece offers.

The minister dismissed such concerns: “What Greece has to offer is so unique that the more stability, peace, security and balance there is in the region, the more we will be growing.”

Smaller tour operators at the WTM were lamenting the restricted space they have been left with as the big international players have all but conquered the Greek market. “They won’t hold their punches. They demand and they get the best hotels at the highest of seasons,” one told IBNA.

The President of SETE (Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises) Yiannis Retsos noted that team work has kept Greece in the top-10 destinations worldwide.

But, he noted, overtaxation has been hitting tourism professionals hard. “Of course this applies to all sectors of the Greek economy,” he added. “What I and SETE are really concerned about right now is the infrastructure. The 32 million of visitors are now testing our public infrastructure every day: waste disposal management, power and water supplies, sewage systems, airports, ports. If we want the country to continue being a protagonist we need to invest and improve.”.... / IBNA

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