2015 was a very difficult year for Greece. But despite the tough political negotiations, the two elections and one referendum, the conditions of economic suffocation and the constant negative publicity, we have designed and implemented for the first time ever in our country, a national tourism policy that yielded immediate results. We have achieved record – high international tourist arrivals that exceeded 26 million and a record tourism revenue of more than 14.1 billion Euros; an increase of 6% over the prior year.
Through our new policy, we have extended the tourist season, we launched thematic forms of tourism and we have created new destinations in Greece. We opened new important markets that show great interest in Greece; we secured new direct flights and for the first time ever we have established close cooperation with all regional administrations of Greece and the private sector, to dynamically display abroad and target the unique tourist identity of our country and our unique destinations.
This year we are continuing intensively in order to accomplish new high goals in our tourism and to strengthen the extroversion of Greece as a dominant global attractive destination, which offers security, safety, high quality infrastructures and services and authentic experiences.
The United States of high priority for us. Our unbreakable ties with the Greek Diaspora, the lively interest and the flame of the Diaspora Greeks to visit Greece and our strong will to tighten even more this relationship, reflected through tourism and our latest efforts in this direction. We want Greek-Americans and their families who long for their country, to visit Greece and to know other sides of its magic and its destinations.
The United States, as a dynamic transatlantic market, supports significantly the Greek tourism arrivals and revenues; and the Greek-Americans, who are the best ambassadors of our country, greatly contribute to that.
From our side we support every effort and initiative that will bring Americans and Greek-Americans closer to Greece, something that is beneficial to our tourism and creates development and prosperity in our country.
Greece provides superior hospitality infrastructure and excellent quality tourist services covering specialized interests and high quality requests. Greece is the Diamond of the Mediterranean, with the largest group of islands; one of the longest coastlines in the world; a favorite international marine tourism destination, luxury tourism, cruise and yachting. A popular destination for cultural tourism, for weddings and for family vacations.
We are highlighting our Orthodox treasures and we seek our country to become an important religious and pilgrimage tourism center worldwide. We also develop the health and wellness tourism, spa tourism, sports and training and rural tourism, as well as our distinct gastronomy. Greece is an excellent choice for city breaks all year round, with numerous choices of entertainment and shopping.
Greece has everything all year round and in 2016 is more than ready to host the millions of tourists who choose to visit us each year.