CORFU – Despite concerns about over-tourism straining Greece’s infrastructure, the country is keen on attracting even more tourists, particularly affluent seniors. The island of Corfu is being spotlighted as a prime destination for this demographic.
Angela Gerekou, President of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) and a native of Corfu, expressed the organization’s ambition to extend Corfu’s tourism season and establish it as a premier brand for travelers, as reported by GTP Headlines.
“Today is the day for tourism. We need to redefine the Corfu brand,” Gerekou stated in a recent meeting with island stakeholders and officials.
Gerekou emphasized the GNTO’s commitment to sustainable initiatives, acknowledging concerns that popular destinations like Corfu might lose their unique charm due to overcrowding. Beyond the island’s renowned beaches and sunny allure, the GNTO aims to promote Corfu as a year-round hub for events, culinary experiences, and marine tourism. Gerekou also highlighted Corfu’s potential as a haven for digital nomads in the IT and high-tech sectors, as well as a hotspot for the affluent senior demographic, often referred to as the “Silver Tourism” market.
Furthering Corfu’s cultural appeal, efforts are underway to brand it as “the island of music and the arts.” The establishment of the Ionian Film Office seeks to position Corfu as a sought-after filming location. Additionally, the introduction of seaplane flights and the recent approval of a seaplane port are expected to enhance the island’s accessibility. Gerekou also noted the island’s airport’s distinction as one of Europe’s least stressful.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis unveiled a plan encompassing 260 projects for the Ionian islands, many of which are tourism-centric. This comes despite criticisms that overtourism might deter visitors in the long run.
A 2019 study by Athens-based research firm diaNEOsis, presented at the Delphi Economic Forum before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, highlighted the rapid growth of Silver Tourism. The study projected that by 2050, travelers over 65 would constitute 35% of the total, presenting a lucrative opportunity for destinations catering to this demographic.
Yannis Tountas, a Professor at the Medical School of Athens University and the study’s coordinator, commented on the global trend of an aging population with increased life expectancy and better health. “Greece has the potential to attract 100,000 health travelers annually, generating revenues of 400 million euros. However, to realize this potential, Greece must further develop its health tourism sector, encompassing medical tourism, spa, and wellness tourism,” Tountas remarked.
However, Tountas also pointed out Greece’s challenges, such as accessibility, transportation, and infrastructure safety, which are vital for silver tourism’s growth. Aristos Doxiadis, a Partner at BigPi Ventures and co-author of the study, added, “Greece doesn’t need to make hefty investments to develop silver tourism. It already possesses the infrastructure, human resources, and hotel capacity to progress.”