Despite Record Numbers, Greece Can’t Crack World 10 Top Ten Tourism

Sunset in Athens, by the Acropolis. Photo by EUROKINISSI/YIANNIS PANAGOPOULOS.

Back-to-back record years for the number of tourist arrivals are helping Greece’s battered economy it still ranked only 14th in the world for 2016, despite jumping up three places from the year before.

With almost no marketing of its treasures and lures, Greece has relied on news stories and features of celebrities coming to islands, and occasional pitches by tourism ministers and travel shows as its strategy.

There has been an increase of nine million people over the past five years, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said, although the 2016 spending numbers were disappointing and brought in less than revenue than hoped to help offset a seven-year-long crushing economic crisis.

The private Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) said its goal is to get the country into the top 10 but won’t be getting much government help to do it.

The number of arrivals jumped from 15.5 million in 2012 to 24.8 million by 2016, the best in the world over that period, followed by Mexico and Thailand.

Greece benefited from violence and political instability in its major tourism rival Turkey, as well as ongoing terrorist fears in places like Egypt. Greece passed Ukraine, which lost 12 million tourists, mostly Russians who’ve stayed away after the violent breakaway of Crimea.