Athens.- Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni was particularly upbeat in her assessment of the 2014 tourism season during statements made in the city of Iraklio, Crete on Friday, predicting that arrivals will reach 20 million visitors by the end of this year.
“After a good year in 2013, there is 2014 with even better results and arrivals that are expected to reach 20 million tourists by the end of the year and revenues reaching 13.5 billion euros,” she said, noting that the country’s tourism sector had reached record levels and all-time highs.
Messages for the tourism sector in 2015 were also positive, she reported, with the ministry’s focus now aimed at further enriching the country’s tourism product, improving its quality and attracting even more tourists throughout the entire year, thus raising average revenues.
“In order to succeed in this, we must exploit all of our country’s comparative advantages,” she noted, while also calling for the development of alternative forms of tourism, such as religious, agrotourism and wine tourism.
Regarding the wave of bankruptcies by Russian travel agents, she said efforts were being made to ensure this did not cut off the flow of tourism from Russia and announced that a delegation from the Russian tourism board will be arriving next week to discuss compensation for the Greek businesses affected.
Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni on Wednesday invited the business community to utilise the potential offered by the tourism sector in Greece. Addressing the 1st Greece-Sweden Business Forum hosted by the Hellenic-Swedish Chamber of Commerce, she pointed out that the tourism sector is a basic pylon of the economy and noted that it supports more than 700,000 jobs, aside from the revenues it generates.
Kefalogianni said that, according to figures by IKA, the largest social insurance fund in the country, a total of 120,000 jobs were created in the tourism sector in the first half of the year corresponding to more than 650 million euros in social insurance contributions.
She also said that the Swedish tourist market is very important to Greece, noting that a total of 368,834 Swedes visited the country in 2013 compared with 319,756 in 2012 – up 15.3 pct – while a further increase was recorded in 2014. Specifically, a total of 8,795 Swedes visited Greece in the first quarter of 2014 compared with 4,546 in the same period last year, up 93.5 pct.
The tourism ministry has taken a positive attitude to a suggestion that Greece issue 72-hour visas to Turkish citizens wishing to visit the Eastern Macedonia-Thrace Region, according to an announcement by the region’s authority on Friday. The announcement was issued after a meeting between Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni and the region’s governor Georgios Pavlidis in Athens, during which Pavlidis presented the suggestion and invited the minister to visit the region.
Earlier in October, Pavlidis sent letters to the foreign ministry, public order ministry and tourism ministry, as well as Minister of State Dimitris Stamatis, asking them to look into the issue.