Konstantinos Tsegas, secretary general of the Greek National Tourist Office, describes 2018 as “the best year in the history of Greek tourism.
“From January to July we witnessed an increase in international arrivals of almost 15% and 17% in tourism revenue. Until the end of 2018, 32.5 million tourists are expected to arrive in our country, including cruise passengers.”
That means an extra 2.1 million extra overseas visitors this year, which Tsegas attributes to the extension of the summer season, strengthening of regional airports and improved flight connections, as well as an increase in direct flights to multiple mainland and island destinations.
Airlift from the UK is especially strong, with new routes including Liverpool and Southend into Corfu from Ryanair, as well as Luton-Athens and Manchester-Thessaloniki.
Jet2 added an extra six flights per week into Chania from Birmingham, Leeds-Bradford, Manchester and Stansted, as well as Edinburgh to Corfu, Birmingham-Kefalonia and Glasgow-Kos. British Airways also added Heathrow-Preveza and Gatwick-Kos.
Athens and Thessaloniki were targets this year for short-break traffic and are still a focus for the tourist office’s promotional plan, and investment continues in 2019 on creating more tourism infrastructure.
“We aim to establish a more competitive framework to attract strategic investments for integrated resorts, large and medium-sized marinas, the development of new dynamic ports for cruises, new investments in medical and thermal tourism and theme parks,” explained Tsegas.
“We also plan specific zones across the country for developing thematic tourist products such as for health and wellness, Mice, golf and culture.”