Greece tourism record in 2015
The citizens of Greece will never forget the summer of 2015, when Athens had to agree on a third bailout with international lenders, was decreed a playpen to prevent massive withdrawals of money in the banks and in September were called early elections. But despite that period of political and economic instability, its tourism sector managed to get ahead. The Minister of tourism of Greece , Elena Kountoura, talked about all this with HOSTELTUR news tourism.
tourist figures registered Greece by 2015?
According to the latest available official figures, it is estimated that by 2015 the departures exceeded 26 million compared with 24 million in the year 2014. Foreign tourism revenue reached 14,500 million euros, 1,000 million in 2014.
How do they value these results?
Have had a very good year. In fact, has been the best year of tourism of Greece with a record of arrivals and income too. Please note that tourism is 20% of the GDP of our country and occupies more than one and a half million workers directly and indirectly.
And that despite the large amount of negative news about Greece, which came out last summer…
Are very happy because in 2015 many people chose Greece as a destination. They decided to help us in difficult times. They showed their solidarity.
what is it mean solidarity?
I want to say that we thought that the year 2015 would be similar to 2014, a bit above perhaps in tourist arrivals. But came the month of July, that had a bad – with all the economic negotiations on Greece – and then people realized that we needed help and that were unfair attacks in the media that we were receiving. So when we launched a campaign very concentrated in last minute reservations, people responded in a very positive way.
do you think that this response generated?
People who know Greece wanted to come to enjoy the country and help us, because they knew that no problem there is. So I want to express my gratitude to people who came from Germany, England, France, Spain… For their help and solidarity.
do you think that the crisis of the refugees in Syria, Afghanistan, etc., that are coming to Europe through several countries, among them Greece, will alter the arrival of tourists in 2016?
For us the priority is the dignity and human rights. Greece has complied with its duty to a phenomenon that has surprised the entire EU. We need to deal with the issue of refugees with responsibility and solidarity. Europe and Turkey must do their homework also and if all goes well I do not think that we have no problem in 2016.
do you think that Greece will benefit from the fact that Turkey and Egypt have been closed to Russian tourism?
Believe that several destinations will benefit from this. Anyway, it is a circumstantial factor. It is better to build faithful relationships between the destination and the visitors. If visitors leave satisfied will be our best ambassadors.
The last summer, and due to economic difficulties, Greece was forced to raise VAT on hotels, which was very competitive, from 6.5% to 13%. How has affected them?
Not believe have no impact because our tourism packages have low prices, are very competitive. Also the fall in oil helps us to reduce air transport prices.
When Syriza came into the Government has commented that it would ban all inclusive in Greece…
Not so. Our proposal is to improve the all inclusive. So in 2015 for the first time we have established agreements between hotels, tour operators, regions and municipalities to deliver the economic benefits of tourism. Thus, tourists had vouchers to go out outside the hotel and consume products out. Thanks to this measure, the hotels have been when the tourist moves by the destination you are more satisfied. And want to repeat the destination.
do possible in the future some kind of cooperation in tourism between Spain and Greece, perhaps some joint promotion campaign?
The problem is that there is much competition between destinations. I have always been in favor of working as a team and I think that it will come the day that maybe we will have things to do together. But, for the moment, we strive to promote our country because we have had an economy in crisis during the past six years. So first we have to improve and we could then search those agreements between countries, for example to simplify the tourist visas.
would contemplate the prospects for this year?
Hope that 2016 is a year better and that in 2018 Greece may become among the five most popular destinations in Europe.