It looks like 2017 will be another bumper year for tourism in Greece as international interest in the country not only remains steady but continues to grow.The tourism season is off to a good start for Greece with renewed attention from overseas visitors. According to industry reports, traditionally popular Mediterranean destinations such as Spain, Italy and Greece are in for another good season this year. A combination of security and political stability are reported as working in the country’s favor compared to the neighboring regions.
Positive signs are emerging that more tourists from Germany, Russia and the UK are making plans to visit Greece this summer. Travel giant TUI has released research which showed that Greece was high on the list for what they call “Sunshine Saturday” holiday searches. This is the term given by the travel industry to the first Saturday of January. A combination of the winter blues and plans for the new year make this particular day one of the busiest for holiday bookings from the UK. For German holiday makers, it tends to be the second Saturday of January. On this bumper bookings day, both German and UK travelers seemed to have a healthy appetite for summer sunshine in Greece.
For the Austrian market, TUI reported that Greece topped the list for bookings made. Greece was the second choice of destination in Netherlands just behind Spain. Overall, according to TUI, there was 41 percent rise in the number of bookings for Greece, with interest in Crete and Rhodes up by 40 percent. Meanwhile, the German branch of Thomas Cook, another industry giant, has described Greece as this year’s “ultimate trend destination for certain customer groups.”
“According to TUI, there was 41 percent rise in the number of bookings for Greece, with interest in Crete and Rhodes up by 40 percent.”
According to the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), Greece is expecting an additional 2.5 million arrivals this year compared to 2016. Counting cruise ship arrivals, the overall number of foreign visitors expected this year is close to 30 million. Based on pre-bookings alone, arrivals from Germany are expected to grow by 40 percent this year, while arrivals from the UK and Russia should rise by 15 percent and 25 percent respectively compared to 2016.
The destinations with the greatest appeal are Crete, Rhodes and Kos. A number of new flight routes have been added this year. These include flights from Hanover, Nuremberg, Stuttgart and Basel to Kos and from Berlin to Crete and Rhodes, which are bound to boost the number of visitors. According to the Hellenic Slot Coordination Authority, which allocates landing slots to airlines, the April-October season in Greece is showing a 19 percent increase in aviation activity to the tune of over 3.5 million additional seats.“The Germans more than ever are flying to Greece,” declared the German newspaper Die Welt. Although a more accurate picture will be gained in March at the International Tourism Fair in Berlin, the paper’s report said that “right now it seems that a politically stable Greece is the big winner of the coming tourist season.”
“In the German top 10 list of destination airports, five of them were Greek.” the paper’s report said. Beyond Europe, attention from American tourists is also on the rise. Visitors from the US accounted for a double digit rise during the 2015-2016 season, according to Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura. The same is expected in 2017. Building on this momentum, extra focus is being placed this year on boosting tourism arrivals from the other side of the Atlantic, including a strong presence at tourism expos, an emphasis on Greece as an all-year-round destination, and the increase of direct flights between the US and Greece.
“Based on pre-bookings alone, arrivals from Germany are expected to grow by 40 percent this year, while arrivals from the UK and Russia should rise by 15 percent and 25 percent respectively compared to 2016.”